Hey, Fickle Readers! Here’s a nifty literary fact for anyone who’s ready to bow out of the Spooooooky Ooky Ghouly Halloween schtick for this year: John Keats was born on Halloween in 1795. He was not, in fact, a particularly scary person, as he only grew to be five feet tall and spent most of his non-writing life studying medicine and being frail from tuberculosis. But he was scary good at poetry, and his career was scary incredible (if that’s a term): he began writing poetry at about age 19 and stopped a year or so before his death at age 25. Yup, that’s right: at around the time that most of us are enjoying hazy, carefree college days and racking up five or six figures of student loan debt, Keats was writing some of the greatest works of English literature. And then he died. From an existential angst perspective, it’s hard to get creepier than that.
Also, here in the States, this weekend marks the end of Daylight Savings Time. So get ready for some bleak winter weather and time spent running around like rats in a dimly lit maze, everyone! To remind you that fall isn’t all that terrible, why not read Keats’s lesser-known yet brilliant seasonal ode To Autumn? It’s a lovely and poignant farewell to comfortable weather. Here’s a taste (one of my favorite of all his stanzas, by the way):
Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they? Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,-- While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day, And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue; Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn Among the river sallows, borne aloft Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies; And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn; Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft, And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.