Johnny Keats 1795-1821
Here lies one whose name was writ in water.
Keats' epitaph for himself (1821)
Melancholy's lack of zest
Was written all over his palimpsest:
To die at twenty-five, to some,
Will hardly seem to have been alive.
But Johnny Keats lived and loved
Poetry, music, kisses, tears
He tried his best to stay alive
With medicine, and Fanny's tears.
No crossing of the river Lethe, as yet,
Undefeated by TB, at least temporarily,
No seeking out of empty-headed
Oblivion either. He preferred to breathe,
To feel, to see, to hear, to think, to write
Apothecary-surgeon Keats wanted Fanny as his wife..
He did not measure out his life in years
But rose to the attainment of that rarest
Of rare orchids, love. For what will survive of us
Towards the end, in Rome, he devotes his time to love, friends
To all the passingness of life. Johnny
Keats, the poet-physician, balanced
His surface understanding of anatomy
With the hidden mysteries of poetry
His alchemical intuitions since ,
Borne out by quantum physics.
Time is such a slippery beast,
For footloose Cavaliers,
And life is so much more
Than just the passing of the years.