The Keats Foundation organized the laying of our annual wreath for John Keats at Westminster Abbey on 31 October, on the 221st anniversary of the poet’s birth. Members of the Keats Foundation and staff and ambassadors of Keats House were joined by Poetry Society and Young Poets Network members.
The Reverend Anthony Ball, Canon of Westminster led the service in Poets’ Corner, in a programme assembled by Foundation trustee Judith Palmer. Poet Peter Daniels read from one of Keats’s letters to Fanny Brawne:
Now I have had opportunities of passing nights anxious and awake I have found other thoughts intrude upon me. ‘If I should die,’ said I to myself, ‘I have left no immortal work behind me—nothing to make my friends proud of my memory —but I have loved the principle of beauty in all things, and if I had had time I would have made myself remembered.’
Canon Ball remembered John Keats ‘with joy, gratitude and affection; and giving thanks for the beauty of his poetry’; praying for all the poets and writers who through the ages had been caused ‘to perceive the world afresh, to enthral and provoke us to thought reflection and wonder; and to explore the richness and diversity of our common nature’.
Poet Michael Horovitz read ‘On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer’, and poet Vanessa Vie read the opening to Endymion. Foundation member and Keats House ambassador Ann Hunter, and Foundation trustee Dr. Toni Griffiths then laid the wreath beneath the memorial to John Keats. The flowers were chosen to reflect ‘the realms of gold’, marking 200 years since the composition in October 1816 of ‘On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer’.