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Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Weight (Keats, Winchester, Late Summer 1819)


Richland Park143 by JewelHouse10.

After another fine sharp temperate night

It is a warm morning. This is part of the world.

Summer light and dust blow yellow

Filmed clouds into the air. The brown stubble

Fields feel warm, give off a red excited

Glow like irritated raspberry marks

On fair skin, with its soft white weight,

As the doleful choir of gnats still wails,

And the maiden at the manor window shakes

The sheets out, or is it her fine light hair

That flows or is flung from the storybook casement,

That causes me to stop to catch my breath?

Richland Park144 by JewelHouse10.

Richland Park 143: photo by Jewel House 10
Richland Park 144: photo by Jewel House 10


Alva Svoboda said...

It amazes me how the absence of stanzas changes the character of this poem so from its presentation in Junkets. The stanzaic structure for me brings the echoing of sad, serene Autumn most to the fore, whereas the insistent twelve lines here call up all of Keats' insistent, desperate little short poems, the turnings of the ode all immediate, line by line or within the line, like the pacings of the tiger at the zoo...

TC said...


Perhaps the most interesting response I've yet had to a poem. You've read my mind... or my luck, more like.

I must confess I find each trip into the boiler room of the Blogger Temple to be a potentially fraught dark-continental expedition (speaking of the ominous sound of stalking predators), each time things seem to happen in some way not quite according to plan. A strange Unreason appears to prevail. I always feel like a blind man in a too-well-lit room.

This time the spaces between the stanzas mysteriously disappeared when I posted.

Having learned to be prepared for this sort of tricky little unwonted-surprise-gremlin, I try not to be ungrateful for its mischievous teachings. Thus was pleased to find the poem transformed in exactly the way you have so keenly noted and beautifully described. Instead of skulking back to the Editing chambers to restore the original quatrains, I thanked the aleatory fates of the Irrational, and obeyed the gremlin.

Thank you for noticing, my friend, made my, I guess it's now morning.

TC said...


thinking a bit more on your lovely sizing up of Keats' stanzaic shaping, I recall Barbara Everett's fine term for the large, grave ode stanza -- taking off from Shelley's description in Epipsychidion of an island "beautiful as a wreck of Paradise"-- as "beautiful as the wreck of a sonnet".

Anonymous said...

I truly admire poets who can manage this perfect combination of sensitivity and accuracy to give shape to a masterpiece by using just a few words. But they are the correct words. No wonder Keats is such a great poet. His skill to use adjectives is incredible, not to mention the flowing of sounds... So musical! A real pleasure.

TC said...


Thank you for the wonderful comment, I'm almost ashamed to admit (yet must!) that this poem is not by Keats but by "me being Keats"--that is, attempting to write in his voice, as though he were living now, but using the emotions of his life as my source and subject. An earlier version of the poem appears in my book Junkets on a Sad Planet: Scenes from the Life of John Keats. Some of the poems in the book (like this one) are written in a first-person voice. Here I imagine him in the late summer of the year in which his tuberculosis is coming on and gaining on him, and at the end I thus imagine him feeling short of breath upon the merest excitement--if only an excitement, as most always, in his imagination.

Anonymous said...

Good Heavens! It seems I totally missed the point and your work is twice as great. On the one hand, the poetry is extraordinary, and on the other, you have placed yourself in the skin of such a unique character and experienced poetry through him. I am amazed =)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for using my photograph on you website. Your poetry is truly beautiful. If you would like to use my photograpghs in the future just let me now first.

Thank you so much,
Terri Stanisha
Jewelhouse Photography

TC said...

Thank you Terri for sharing your wonderful work, which brightened my day when I discovered it in Creative Commons.

For others who would like to look, here is