Monday 31 October 2016


This glorious autumn day - warm sun after early mist - is (as well as All Hallows' Eve) the birthday of John Keats (born 1795). Here he is, on another autumn day in 1819, writing to his friend Richard Woodhouse, and suddenly slipping into something very familiar, and beautiful...

'I left Town on Wednesday - determined to be in a hurry. You don't eat travelling - you're wrong - beef - beef - I like the look of a sign. The Coachman's face says eat, eat, eat. I never feel more contemptible than when I am sitting by a goodlooking coachman. One is nothing - Perhaps I eat to persuade myself I am somebody. You must be when slice after slice - but it wont do - the Coachman nibbles a bit of bread - he's favour'd - he's had a Call - a Hercules Methodist - Does he live by bread alone? O that I were a Stage Manager - perhaps that's as old as 'doubling the Cape'. "How are ye old 'un? hey! why don't 'e speak?' O that I had so sweet a Breast to sing as the Coachman hath! I'd give a penny for his Whistle - and bow to the Girls on the road - Bow - nonsense - 'tis a nameless graceful slang action. Its effect on the women suited to it must be delightful. It touches 'em in the ribs - en passant - very off hand - very fine - Sed thongum formosa vale vale inquit Heigh ho la! You like Poetry better - so you shall have some I was going to give Reynolds.
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom friend of the maturing sun..

Remind yourself of the whole of the great ode here. It is always worth rereading.

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