Keats’s first volume of poems, published in 1817, demonstrated both his belief in the consummate power of poetry and his liberal views. While he was criticized by many for his politics, his immediate circle of friends and family immediately recognized his genius. In his short life he proved to be one of the greatest and most original thinkers of the second generation of Romantic poets, with such poems as ‘Ode to a Nightingale’, ‘On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer’ and ‘La Belle Dame sans Merci’. While his writing is illuminated by his exaltation of the imagination and abounds with sensuous descriptions of nature’s beauty, it also explores profound philosophical questions.
John Barnard’s acclaimed volume contains all the poems known to have been written by Keats, arranged by date of composition. The texts are lightly modernized and are complemented by extensive notes, a comprehensive introduction, an index of classical names, selected extracts from Keats’s letters and a number of pieces not widely available, including his annotations to Milton’s Paradise Lost.