200 years ago Keats wrote about his final book of poems

On 21 June 1820 wrote:
My book [Lamia, Isabella, The Eve of St Agnes, and other poems by John Keats, Author of Endymion] is coming out with very low hopes, though not spirits, on my part. This shall be my last trial; not succeeding, I shall try what I can do in the apothecary line…

I foresee I shall know very few people in the course of a year or two. Men get such different habits that they become as oil and vinegar to one another. Thus far I have a consciousness of having been pretty dull and heavy, both in subject and phrase; I might add, enigmatical. I am in the wrong, and the world is in the right, I have no doubt. Fact is, I have had so many kindnesses done me by so many people, that I am cheveaux-de-frised with benefits, which I must jump over or break down. I met —— [probably Thomas Monkhouse] in town, a few days ago, who invited me to supper to meet Wordsworth, Southey, Lamb, Haydon, and some more; I was too careful of my health to risk being out at night. Talking of that, I continue to improve slowly, but I think surely.

[chevaux-de-frise refers to a line of spikes of pieces of broken glass set into the top of a wall to deter people from climbing over it; Keats is feeling hemmed in by people’s kindness to him.]


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