Issue 268: 2021 02 25: John Keats

25 February 2021

To John Keats

On the bicentenary of his death (23.02.2021)

By Neil Tidmarsh


statue of John Keats by Vincent Gray. Photo Sidpickle (Creative Commons)


I caught it off you, John, this word-virus.

Fifty years I’ve suffered, searching, singing

(Trying to sing), feverish on this night bus

To joy and pain, beauty and loss. Dreaming.


I’ve met other super-spreaders. The vain,

Lame lord who laughed at you. His friend, who drowned

In his own ideals. The Lakeland mountain

Pair, before they grew old and ran aground.


But you were always the most infectious.

Coughing blood, your voice mutated (became

Stronger, more beautiful) when death came home

To father, mother, brother and the noxious

Sick at Guys, and followed you (far from fame)

To quarantined Naples and silent Rome.





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