John Keats



Brief an John Taylor


Hampstead, 27 February [1818].      


  My dear Taylor,

Your alteration strikes me as being a great improvement. And now I will attend to the punctuation you speak of. The comma should be at soberly, and in the other passage the comma should follow quiet. I am extremely indebted to you for this alteration, and also for your after admonitions. It is a sorry thing for me that any one should have to overcome prejudices in reading my verses. That affects me more than any hypercriticism on any particular passage. In "Endymion," I have most likely but moved into the go-cart from the leading-strings. In poetry I have a few axioms, and you will see how far I am from their centre.

1st. I think poetry should surprise by a fine excess, and not by singularity; it should strike the reader as a wording of his own highest thoughts, and appear almost a remembrance.

2nd. Its touches of beauty should never be half-way, thereby making the reader breathless instead of content. The rise, the progress, the setting of imagery, should like the sun, come natural too him, shine over him, and set soberly, although in magnificence, leaving him in the luxury of twilight. But it is easier to think what poetry should be, than to write it. And this leads me to

Another axiom – That if poetry comes not as naturally as the leaves to a tree, it had better not come at all. However it may be with me, I cannot help looking into [122] new countries with "Oh, for a muse of fire to ascend!" If "Endymion" serves me as a pioneer, perhaps I ought to be content, for, thank God, I can read, and perhaps understand, Shakespeare to his depths; and I have, I am sure, many friends, who, if I fail, will attribute any change in my life and temper to humbleness rather than pride – to a cowering under the wings of great poets, rather than to a bitterness that I am not appreciated. I am anxious to get "Endymion" printed that I may forget it, and proceed. I have copied the Third Book, and begun the Fourth. I will take care the printer shall not trip up my heels.

Remember me to Percy Street.

                  Your sincere and obliged friend

                                                      John Keats

P.S. – I shall have a short preface in good time.





Erstdruck und Druckvorlage

The poetical works and other writings of John Keats, now first brought together, including poems and numerous letters not before published. Edited with notes and appendices by Harry Buxton Forman. Volume III. London: Reeves & Turner 1883, S. 122-123.


Die Textwiedergabe erfolgt nach dem ersten Druck (Editionsrichtlinien).



Kommentierte und kritische Ausgaben




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Lyriktheorie » R. Brandmeyer