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Durham University

Department of English Studies

Event Archive

This is an archive of past events within the Department of English Studies. Please see our current events for forthcoming activities.

Some of our public events are recorded and are available as podcasts via our Research English At Durham blog.

'We talked about Ghosts...': John Keats' Shadows

2nd February 2016, 18:15 to 19:15, Elvet Riverside 140, Profesor Nicholas Roe (University of St Andrews)

Part of the Institute of Advanced Study's 'Evidence of Spirits' lecture series.

"...and it sure must be
Almost the highest bliss of human kind,
When to thy haunts two kindred spirits flee."

The closing lines of John Keats’s first published poem, ‘To Solitude’, speak of escaping to an otherworld of ‘haunts’ and ‘kindred spirits’. Perhaps this isn't surprising, given the deaths of his father, mother, brother, grandmother and other relatives, and his harrowing duties at Guy’s Hospital. Keats talked about ghosts with his friends, recalled that Coleridge told him a ghost story, and populated his poems with numerous ghosts and shadows. The narrative inIsabella turns upon a ghostly encounter, as does ‘Ode on Indolence’; in ‘Ode to a Nightingale’ being ‘here’ is to grow ‘pale, and spectre-thin’, while the full-fruited stanzas of ‘To Autumn’ are aware of an elusive presence ‘like a gleaner’, glimpsed ’by a cyder-press’.

In this talk Prof Roe wants to explore the lure of the ghostly in Keats, and what his realms of shadows may tells us about his poetic achievement. 

Contact m.r.sandy@durham.ac.uk for more information about this event.

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