The Echoing Nightingale - The Survival Of John Keats

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20170903

Richard Holmes explores the enduring echo of the life and poetry of John Keats.

Biographer Richard Holmes explores unconsummated love, passion, poetry and talented lives cut short as he discovers how John Keats' life and poetry continues to resonate in literature, music, film and science - nearly 200 years after his death at the age of 25.

Keats doubted his own immortality as a poet. He even suggested his own epitaph, "here lies one whose name was writ in water'"

"'If I should die, I have left no immortal work behind me - nothing to make my friends proud of my memory - but I have lov'd the principle of beauty in all things, and if I had had time I would have made myself remember'd."

But as Keats' actual life fades away from us through time, the "plaintive anthem" of his whole story - his youth, his love, his letters, his poetry - the echo of his famous nightingale, only deepens and spreads.

Richard talks to director Jane Campion about how she fell in love with Keats by reading his searingly painful and passionate letters to Fanny Brawne, which led to her making the film Bright Star. And he talks to geneticist Steve Jones, a lifelong fan of Keats, about the complexity of the scientific response to Keats' work.

He visits Keats House, the setting for Keats and Fanny's love affair, and a place of pilgrimage for fans today. He also goes to Guys Hospital, where Keats trained as an apothecary, to talk to medical students inspired by his legacy.

And Olivier Award-winning actor Luke Treadaway reads Keats' wonderful meditation on nature and immortality, Ode to a Nightingale:

Forlorn! the very word is like a bell
To toll me back from thee to my sole self!
Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so well
As she is fam'd to do, deceiving elf.
Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades
Past the near meadows, over the still stream,
Up the hill-side; and now 'tis buried deep
In the next valley-glades:
Was it a vision, or a waking dream?
Fled is that music:-Do I wake or sleep?

Produced by Jane Greenwood
A Loftus production for BBC Radio 4.

20170903

Richard Holmes explores the enduring echo of the life and poetry of John Keats.

Biographer Richard Holmes explores unconsummated love, passion, poetry and talented lives cut short as he discovers how John Keats' life and poetry continues to resonate in literature, music, film and science - nearly 200 years after his death at the age of 25.

Keats doubted his own immortality as a poet. He even suggested his own epitaph, "here lies one whose name was writ in water'"

"'If I should die, I have left no immortal work behind me - nothing to make my friends proud of my memory - but I have lov'd the principle of beauty in all things, and if I had had time I would have made myself remember'd."

But as Keats' actual life fades away from us through time, the "plaintive anthem" of his whole story - his youth, his love, his letters, his poetry - the echo of his famous nightingale, only deepens and spreads.

Richard talks to director Jane Campion about how she fell in love with Keats by reading his searingly painful and passionate letters to Fanny Brawne, which led to her making the film Bright Star. And he talks to geneticist Steve Jones, a lifelong fan of Keats, about the complexity of the scientific response to Keats' work.

He visits Keats House, the setting for Keats and Fanny's love affair, and a place of pilgrimage for fans today. He also goes to Guys Hospital, where Keats trained as an apothecary, to talk to medical students inspired by his legacy.

And Olivier Award-winning actor Luke Treadaway reads Keats' wonderful meditation on nature and immortality, Ode to a Nightingale:

Forlorn! the very word is like a bell
To toll me back from thee to my sole self!
Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so well
As she is fam'd to do, deceiving elf.
Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades
Past the near meadows, over the still stream,
Up the hill-side; and now 'tis buried deep
In the next valley-glades:
Was it a vision, or a waking dream?
Fled is that music:-Do I wake or sleep?

Produced by Jane Greenwood
A Loftus production for BBC Radio 4.

20170909