Thursday, December 27, 2007

Keats-Shelley Museum

One of the most moving and tasteful memorials to any poet is the small Keats-Shelley House museum on the Spanish Steps in Rome (the website has been added to our 'Individual Poets' links in the sidebar). This is the building where Keats lived out his final months, tended by his dear friend Joseph Severn. Pictured, our Head of Department John Fanagan on a pre-Christmas trip to Rome, looking at Keats's death mask. The room is where the poet died of tuberculosis aged 25, though the furniture is not original (everything was burnt afterwards).

Keats and Shelley (and many other notables) are buried in the so-called Protestant Cemetery in Rome, a beautiful tranquil site which three English Department teachers visited a few years ago. Keats's poetry, including our recent Poem of the Week 'To Autumn', is on the Leaving Certficate course for 2009, while Shelley has been reduced to 'Ozymandias' on the Ordinary Level course (occasionally). The inscription on the grave reads :

This Grave contains all that was mortal, of a Young English Poet, who on his Death Bed, in the Bitterness of his heart, at the Malicious Power of his enemies, desired these words to be Engraven on his Tomb Stone:
Here lies One Whose Name was writ in Water.

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