John Keats and the “Ode to Autumn” – Monday 11 January

Monday 11 January

With Professor Gregory Dowling

10% of ticket proceeds will be donated to the Keats-Shelley House museum in Rome.

We are approaching the bicentenary of John Keats’s death, which occurred in Rome on 23rd February 1821. He was the first of the second generation of young Romantic poets to die, to be followed just a year and a half later by Shelley, and two years after that by Byron. Keats had not achieved anything like the fame (or notoriety) of his two great contemporaries during his lifetime but he has since become perhaps the best loved of English poets. This lecture will concentrate on two key poems, one from the beginning of his tragically short career, the sonnet ‘On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer’, and one from the end, the ‘Ode to Autumn’, a poem that has a decidedly valedictory tone.

The sonnet testifies to Keats’s discovery of the power of classical mythology, something he came to afresh, unlike his more privileged contemporaries who had had the benefit of a classical education.

The great ode, written at the same time as Shelley’s ‘Ode to the West Wind’, is an intensely private and personal poem, whose power to move is closely tied to the poet’s keen awareness of his own mortality. It has been described as the most beautiful poem in the English language. We will try to discover what lies behind its sensuous beauty.


Our Biographies series of lectures offer an in-depth look at the life and works of artists from experts in the field.

Our experts will provide new insights into the artists' best-known works while also drawing attention to others that might be less familiar. Each presentation will be accompanied by carefully chosen visual supports, in the form of high definition photos and videos. 

Your Lecturer

Prof Gregory Dowling

Gregory Dowling is Associate Professor of American Literature at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice. He has written numerous articles on Venice, and was responsible for the sightseeing pages of the first five editions of the Time Out Guide to Venice. He is a member of the directorial board for a new museum in Ravenna devoted to Lord Byron, which will open in 2020. He is also the author of the "Alvise Marangon" historical thriller novels set in Venice and a regular lecturer at the “Circolo Italo-Britannico” in Venice.

Event Details

Date: 11 January 2021

Start time: 06:00 p.m. GMT

End time: 07:30 p.m. GMT

Venue: Zoom Webinar


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