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Classic Keats poem returns home.

Byline: Report by Simon Stone

John Keats' Ode To A Nightingale is returning to the place where he wrote the manuscript 200 years ago.

The Romantic poet is said to have composed the work "on a few scraps of paper" under a plum tree in his garden in Hampstead, north-west London, in just one morning. He died two years later, aged just 25, before the poem, inspired by birdsong, became the acclaimed and popular work it is today. The handwritten document is going on display at Keats House, the place which is said to have nurtured some of his greatest works in the early 1800s.

Dog-eared and slightly marked, it is the only manuscript of Ode To A Nightingale in Keats' own hand. Rob Shakespeare, principal curator of Keats House, said it would be "very powerful" to see it back "in the house for the first time since he wrote it".

Keats, now seen as one of the greatest English poets, rented one side of the house, living with his friend, Charles Brown.

Mr Shakespeare said: "He came here at a very sad time in his life. He had been orphaned, his brother had died after suffering from tuberculosis and he had also given up a promising medical career. But a literary circle gave him friendship and support and encouraged his work. He had no money but he had determination and focus.

"Hampstead really nurtured that and allowed him respite in a turbulent life." The poet, who was "pilloried by critics during his lifetime", also fell in love while living in the house, with Fanny Brawne. Mr Shakespeare added: "He found some peace, inspiration and encouragement to write this work, which really stood the test of time.

"I'd hope he'd think this is a really fitting tribute to an astonishing work of literature."

Ode To A Nightingale is one of five works, which have been ranked among the greatest short poems in the English language, written by Keats during this creative period.

The poem was last on public display 25 years ago, at Dove Cottage, Lake District.


The poem is returning 200 years after it was first written

Ode To A Nightingale is going on display at Keats House

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Publication:Shropshire Star (Shropshire, England)
Date:May 3, 2019
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