Christopher Howell

(1945 / Portland, Oregon)

Keats - Poem by Christopher Howell

When Keats, at last beyond the curtain
of love's distraction, lay dying in his room
on the Piazza di Spagna, the melody of the Bernini
Fountain "filling him like flowers,"
he held his breath like a coin, looked out
into the moonlight and thought he saw snow.
He did not suppose it was fever or the body's
weakness turning the mind. He thought, "England!"
and there he was, secretly, for the rest
of his improvidently short life: up to his neck
in sleigh bells and the impossibly English cries
of street vendors, perfect
and affectionate as his soul.
For days the snow and statuary sang him so far
beyond regret that if now you walk rancorless
and alone there, in the piazza, the white shadow
of his last words to Severn, "Don't be frightened,"
may enter you.

Comments about Keats by Christopher Howell

  • Daniel Brick (12/19/2016 2:20:00 AM)

    RE John Keats, the Prince of Poets
    HE IS A PART OF THAT LOVELINESS HE ONCE MADE MORE LOVELY; That how Shelley described the posthumous existence of Keats in ADONAIS. It a sort of Platonic view of the poet'S COMMITMENT TO BEAUTY which Shelley certainly shared. But just now you evoked for me a still desperately alive Keats and gave me a wonderful anecdote by which I can seek him (or his ghost) if I ever get to Italy, or maybe your sonnet brought him him back to England! It has that Keatsian magic of traveling ON THE VIEWLESS WINGS OF POESY into the presence
    of those who love him: Fanny, Monneta, the Moon Goddess, Psyche, and all his readers who keep him alive in our collective imagination.
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  • Glen Kappy (10/12/2016 5:55:00 PM)

    cool poem about one of the most lyrical of english poets. shakespeare, i think, is the still the champ of english sonnets, but keats comes close with some of his. -glen kappy (Report) Reply

  • Susan Williams (10/12/2016 3:18:00 PM)

    An incredibly tender farewell to Keats and a lovely poem to simply read for the rich tapestry of poetry exquisitely written. (Report) Reply

  • Edward Kofi Louis (10/12/2016 12:28:00 AM)

    Cries! !
    Beyond the curtain. Thanks for sharing this poem with us. (Report) Reply

  • Seamus O' Brian (9/23/2016 9:10:00 AM)

    This is beautiful. If I ever walk there again, I will read this poem there, and think of England, too. (Report) Reply

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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Poem Edited: Wednesday, September 21, 2016

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