200 years ago, Keats writes a poem on his brother’s birthday

Flames courtesy of Jon and Clare Penny
Flames courtesy of Jon and Clare Penny

Keats celebrates his brother Tom’s 17th birthday on 18 November 1816. The three brothers (John, George and Tom) are now sharing a second-floor apartment at 76 Cheapside.

To my Brothers

Small, busy flames play through the fresh laid coals,
And their faint cracklings o’er our silence creep
Like whispers of the household gods that keep
A gentle empire o’er fraternal souls.
And while, for rhymes, I search around the poles,
Your eyes are fix’d, as in poetic sleep,
Upon the lore so voluble and deep,
That aye at fall of night our care condoles.
This is your birth-day Tom, and I rejoice
That thus it passes smoothly, quietly.
Many such eves of gently whisp’ring noise
May we together pass, and calmly try
What are this world’s true joys,—ere the great voice,
From its fair face, shall bid our spirits fly.


To My Brothers

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *