Another Great Keats and Even Then No Replies!


Keats lives! (for a while)

John Keats Bright Star poetry

Poor fellow! His was an untoward fate:—
‘Tis strange the mind, that very fiery particle,
Should let itself be snuffed out by an Article.

—Lord Byron

Keats didn’t actually die because of a bad review. But if he had, how would he feel now that Bright Star, Jane Campion’s film about him, is garnering so much positive press? 09.18.09


Now this is a very fine article just posted on Blog:Harriet. If you would like to read the rest of it click here. If you’d also like to read the unlikely comments click here. If you’d like to comment on a comment with impunity (no Red Thumbs, no Poetry Board intolerance)  you can post it just below.

And don’t worry either, if you say something especially beautiful Gary B. Fitzgerald can still post a poem here, and you might even get to share a few pints with Desmond Swords or a billet doux with Thomas Brady. On the other hand, if you say something that annoys Travis, Nick, Noah, or John Oliver Simon,  you won’t be Voted Down or be put on “awaiting moderation.” I mean,  even if you say something really nasty about Chicago you won’t get Deleted, even if it’s “curate!”


  1. thomasbrady said,

    September 20, 2009 at 6:44 pm

    Keats makes poets uncomfortable.

    How can one compete with Keats?

    The exquisite poetry of Keats dooms almost the whole lot of contemporary scribblers who attempt poetry themselves to live up to an almost impossible standard.

    This is why, perhaps, Keats is always described in terms that distance him from us: “romantic,” “sickly,” “wan,” “pale” etc etc.

    Reviewers of the film cannot be expected to really speak of Keats and his poetry–naturally, they focus on the actors and the cinematography and the story’s focus on the sad romance.

    Which feeds into the ‘distance’ factor mentioned above.

    Not that lovers of Keats should not be glad for a beautiful film on him, a film that may even win him a few fans.

    But, for the most part, one senses among contemporaries an uncomfortable, condescending attitude; think of Yeats’ crude remark that Keats was like a boy oggling a candy shop.

    Comparison is an odious word to moderns. “You can’t compare!” They shriek. “The Romantics and Moderns are different!”

    One, of course, should not place Keats and Yeats side by side, then, for the latter dissolves into doggerel in the former’s light.

    The modern poet lurks in a different realm; he cannot enter Keats country without looking silly and out of place; new realms are built; the contemporary poet is safe from comparison.

    It will be interesting to see the Keats film, but of course it will ‘work’ if the director is good enough to make it work; it will have nothing to do with Keats, the poet, and perhaps very little with Keats, the man.

    Why didn’t Abigail see the film herself before posting? Has anyone had a chance to see the film yet? The feeling one gets from Ms. Deutsch is that she is no film reviewer and will not compete with real film reviewers, and thus she simply links them–and this is the heart of her post.

    Odd treatment, by Abigail, really, of Keats and his film on a poetry blog, but, then, not at all surprising.

  2. thomasbrady said,

    September 20, 2009 at 7:17 pm

    Just a background note for readers of Scarriet:

    Harriet took 48 hours to even respond to Keats and his beautiful new film–and that was just one comment, by Terreson.

    The poster, Terreson, is famous for his ‘pee in the pool’ essay and thread on the poetry & wrestling site, Clattery Machinery.

    ‘Pee in the pool’ is Terreson’s plea for freedom of expression on the on line poetry site; think of ‘pee in the pool’ as a kind of lite.

    Fans of Terreson are anxiously watching Terreson’s attempt to make a mark on Harriet.


    Because very recently Terreson has sought, with Clattery, to distance himself from Brady, Woodman, and Swords, who were banished–on a whim–from the now dead Harriet.

    In fact, Clattery is now deleting posts as we speak on his own blog in a huffy display of impatience (madness?) with the ‘pee’ thread’s ‘hijacking’ by Brady, Woodman, and Swords.

    It wasn’t really ‘hijacked,’ you see, but host Clattery, in a twist of irony, has now hijacked it for real, egged on by someone named Indy and a strangely indignant (and crazy-acting) Terreson.

    So we watch as Terreson, seeing his chance to redeem himself, flies to the rescue of Harriet, hoping the whim of that site will smile on his heroism.

    Good Terreson now wants nothing to do with Brady, Woodman, and Swords, and hopes this will make him beloved in po-biz–as he has never really been. Last week a poster on Harriet called him a “grouch,” and he gets a lot of ‘thumbs-downs’ on Harriet, and Terreson has made enemies wherever he goes.

    But things could change for the better for Terreson. We will be watching him as he attempts to revive Harriet.

    And we will be wishing him well.

  3. thomasbrady said,

    September 21, 2009 at 6:58 pm

    Look! the Keats thread on Harriet really taking off!

    3 more comments in addition to the two by Terreson!

    “I cannot WAIT to see this movie,” Rebecca informs us.

    Yes, and I cannot WAIT for you to see it!

    Another poster excerpts 3 more reviews–sans comment.

    There’s no sense that Harriet is THINKING. We know they can PASTE. But do they THINK? That’s the question.

    The fifth comment mentions a different film by the director–and says it’s really good.

    Perhaps we’ll get links of reviews of this OTHER film?

    That would be swell!

  4. thomasbrady said,

    September 22, 2009 at 7:47 pm

    Gary Fitzgerald has been kind enough to post poems on Keats, and since Harriet will probably have nothing to say about them, I might as well observe the following:

    I will not comment on the Fitzgerald poems, since Gary does not take kindly to criticism when he uses his poems as illustration in a thread. I will respect his wishes, then, and pass over his two works on Keats in silence. I cannot help but say, however, that I was really charmed by, “Reality itself is not poetic–just its origins and its fruits.”

    The Longfellow, Wilde, Lowell, Teasdale poems are undistinguished.

    The Byron is marvelous and justly famous, and the Byron poem in Keats happens to be an example of foetics.

    The Service is interesting how it pounces on Keats forcing a rhyme: “sore” and “kisses four.” The published poem changed this very stanza to remove this rhyme, but the manuscript version with “sore” and “four” is far more familiar. Is Service right to pick? Perhaps a little, but “four” is a modest number; if Keats had said “forty four” Service would have a better case, and Service undercuts his argument when he says he (Service) would have kissed her more.


  5. cowpattyhammer said,

    September 23, 2009 at 9:22 am

    I’ve been trying to encourage Gary B. Fitzgerald to post some poems on this thread but he says he’s not political, whatever that might mean. Because I would say both of the poems he posted on the “Keats Lived (for a while!)” thread on Blog:Harriet are, in fact, intensely political. So let’s look:


    Writing a poem about sunset
    in the burning ochre light
    about the victory at twilight that
    proves the value of our fight.
    Unexpectedly, the light was gone
    and I couldn’t see to write.
    Then night, and I never finished
    the poem.

    Gary B. Fitzgerald

    Now there you are. This fine poem really does take a strong political stand against going gently into that good night as well as stopping by the woods on a snowy evening. It’s also better than the good fight that’s at the heart of all our most egregious defeats, because it wears its heart out, not on it’s sleeve.

    And if you think any of that is commentary on the poem you’re going to be suggesting that I might have a political motive not only in reposting these poems but in writing this critique. But that would be suicidal, and if you don’t understand what I mean you’re obviously not Gary B. Fitzgerald!

    O.K, but what about the other?


    To John

    “Who most inspired your poetry?
    What poets were you influenced by?”

    Well, I replied, I’d have to say
    it was Jackson Pollock. And sea gulls.
    Sailing ships and timber wolves
    and everyone who ever died.

    (Reality itself is not poetic,
    just its origin and fruits)
    The seed and the flower.

    I don’t understand, you said.

    Being, my friend! Being dead!
    Just this. Who cares why?
    That’s what inspires!
    The physics of quantum,
    the quality of light,
    all the tears that were ever cried,
    the emptiness and the power.
    The beauty of the mystery.

    I still don’t understand.

    That’s it! Not understanding!
    Negative capability.

    Gary B. Fitzgerald



    Now to understand the political implications here you have to understand Gary B. Fitzgerald’s relationship to the whole democratic process, and particularly toward the idea of one man, one vote — or one woman, for that matter — as opposed to many votes:the management [CLICK HERE for that]. In fact it’s that solitary “+1” right after his signature that is the key to the poem’s greatness. You will notice that it’s green, which means affirmation, acceptance, that you’re not under suspicion or your future on the blog in any doubt. You’re in with green, just as John Keats was in with whatever he meant by “negative capability,” even if it sounds like maybe you’re the sort of poster who might write too much or too frequently or even too well, all of which would bore the Harriets into voting Red.

    The thing is, if you’re John Keats you’re safe here. You’ve got it made.


    Quite seriously, Gary, I do like your poems and I miss them profoundly. I only wish there were more writers on Harriet that could write like you, because the air’s getting awfully thin in there and I’m worried the whole place may be passing out.

    Your friend, Christopher

  6. thomasbrady said,

    September 23, 2009 at 2:53 pm


    “if you’re John Keats you’re safe here”

    I don’t know if the poetry establishment today really cares about Keats–they pretend an affection, but look at Harriet: they can’t discuss him, don’t know what to do with him, ‘romantic and pale’ is the normal stupid reaction.

    We are not dying so much from a lack of poetry; we are dying from a lack of John Keats.

    You’re right about Gary, though. Clever guy. Our best living Zen poet.


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