John Keats

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

Date: 1880 February
Rhyme: abbaaccaddeffe
Meter: iambic pentameter
Genre: sonnet


◦ Caine, Recollections, 166-175.


Editorial glosses and textual notes are available in a pop-up window. Line numbering reflects the structure of the The 1881 Ballads and Sonnets first edition text .

Scholarly Commentary


The sonnet focuses on Keats's life rather than on his literary work, as Caine's commentary was the first to point out. The sonnet thus becomes primarily a cultural rather than a literary or aesthetic exegesis. In this connection, one of the most striking passages is line 8, whose implications are considerable. DGR appears to be drawing a contrast between the alienated vitality of London, sketched at the opening of the octave, with “Dead Rome”, where Keats (in this representation) chose to take an exile's rest. DGR argues that Keats's participation in visionary realms (“Castalian brink and Latmos' steep”) was inward and psychic.

The opening of the sonnet certainly recalls both “Jenny” and “Found”.

Textual History: Composition

DGR wrote the sonnet toward the end of February 1880, as we see from his letter to Jane Morris of 29 February (see Fredeman, Correspondence, 80. 65 ). The earliest copy is the draft in the library of the Delaware Art Museum. DGR then tried to make a fair copy from this draft but found himself continuing with revisions. This second copy was the basis for a third copy, also in the Delaware library. The second copy is the cancelled draft now in the Fitzwilliam Museum Library. Two later fair copies exist, one in the Bodleian and another in the British Library. Notebook IV in the British Library has draft material related to the composition of the sonnet (37v-40r).

Printing History

It was first published in the 1881 Ballads and Sonnets as one of the group of sonnets he headed with the title Five English Poets. It was collected thereafter but in the 1911 Works the five-sonnet grouping is removed by WMR and this sonnet, like the four others, is printed separately.

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: 4-1880.raw.xml