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on 17 February 2014
So... Keats. An absolutely indispensable poet, but what's the best Keats to have on your shelf? There's no single answer to that one.

The problem with the various Collected Poems is that they contain so much ephemera, parodies, written-on-napkin nonsense and dullish collaborations with Charles Brown that the real central essential Keats gets a bit swamped.

So you want a Selected. You want an uncluttered book like this, where you've got Sleep and Poetry, The Odes, Hyperion, The Eve of St Agnes, La Belle Dame sans Merci .... you know, all the stuff that Matters. Those scents and tastes and the feel of things - I truly believe Keats is the only poet who wrote with all his baby-senses intact. And those electric visionary lines that (as the narrator says in the Kipling story "Wireless") look out on a region of the imagination that no-one else has ever been permitted to visit.

Down the wide stairs a darkling way they found.-
In all the house was heard no human sound.
A chain-droop'd lamp was flickering by each door;
The arras, rich with horseman, hawk, and hound,
Flutter'd in the besieging wind's uproar;
And the long carpets rose along the gusty floor.

This selection by John Barnard is really good, it is a very nice book to carry around and read deeply in. But it does have one big downside: it does not contain the whole of Endymion, only selections. We really do need to have the whole of Endymion, which remains one of Keats' most important poems, for all of Keat's own apologies about it.

The other alternative is Elizabeth Cook's Oxford selection, which does contain the whole of Endymion, but because she also includes so much prose it ends up (at 650 pages) just as bulky as Barnard's Complete Poems, and accordingly is an unpleasant book to read deeply in. Reading poetry is such a strenuous business, you need all the help you can get, so a poetry book should be light and portable, something you can pick up and throw down and bend the pages of.

The best selection, if you can only have one, is Paul de Man's Signet Selected from forty years ago. (He makes room for Endymion by binning Isabella and a few others.) Great introductory essay, too. But, anyway, that's out of print and is not easy to find any more.

The other book to get hold of, if you're really mad about Keats, is the Penguin First Editions reprint of Keat's final collection "Lamia, Isabella, the Eve of St.Agnes and Other Poems", exactly as it appeared in 1820. - Really eye-opening to see THE collection, with all those immortal poems, (and a few rubbish ones), just as it first came out.
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on 16 February 2011
The poems in this book can definitely be described as romantic poetry. I bought this book for use on my English Literature A Level. Although I only needed to read three poems, I read the whole book. The imagery of the poems is very descriptive and the stories behind them are very vivid. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes romantic poetry.
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on 31 January 2016
Book as described and very fast service.
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on 8 May 2016
A lovely set of poetry!
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on 26 August 2014
Bought for A level
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on 15 March 2016
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on 28 March 2009
A thing of beauty is a joy forever but reading these poems has been an endeavor. I know I should pay due respect to John Keats but I am a simple man in the street who admits that at school he didn't like rhyme and whose appetite for it's diminished with time. Iambic pentameter gets on my nerves - interfering with the meaning of Keats' words. His rhyming in couplets is so very twee, two As then two Bs and a good pair of Cs, but some of Keats's pairings are not very bright producing a discord and not a sound bite and often his structure left me disinclined to sort out the sense from the rhythm and rhymes and so grasping the point he was trying to make was apt to induce a filthy head-ache. And where were his phrases to make my heart soar? I couldn't find much that I truly fell for. A lot of the time he refers to old Greeks and to fathom the plotting I had to keep a book of mythology out on my desk which made reading the poems rather grotesque.

Since I don't understand the world he portrays, which is dreamy, romantic, gooey and fey, it ends up like wallpaper patterned with chintz - and that's what I think of this Classic imprint.
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