Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Keats, John

(1795-1821) English poet who made frequent use of Greek Myths in his poems. Of his long works, Endymion: A Poetic Romance (1818) is minor, and the more ambitious fragments "Hyperion" (1820) and "The Fall of Hyperion: A Dream" (written 1819; 1848) were abandoned. All these works owe a debt to Ovid, although the actual source for Endymion is more obscure. While JK set greatest store in his long poems, his shorter narratives are more accomplished and have exerted a greater influence over modern fantasy. "Lamia" (1820), telling the story – from Anatomy of Melancholy (1621) by Robert Burton (1577-1640) – of a Greek philosopher who unwittingly marries the eponymous serpent woman (> Lamia), and "La Belle Dame Sans Merci" (1820) are tales of erotic entrapment and devastation; the latter poem, with its medieval venue and spare form, is widely echoed in modern fantasy. "The Eve of St Agnes" (1820), also probably derived from Burton, gives a happy ending to a story of erotic enchantment: its lovers, both human, escape an "elfin-storm from faery land", cheating, very unusually, the world of Faerie.

JK has been dramatized in fantasy on various occasions, as in Tim Powers's The Stress of Her Regard (1989) and Dan Simmons's Hyperion books. [GF]

John Keats


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.