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Quarterly Review

Blackwood's Magazine

John Gibson Lockhart (1794—1854) writer and literary editor


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A poem in four books, by Keats, written 1817, published 1818.

The poem tells, with a wealth of epithet and invention, the story of Endymion, ‘the brainsick shepherd‐prince’ of Mount Latmos, who falls in love with Cynthia, the moon, and descends to the depths of the earth to find her. There he encounters a real woman, Phoebe, and falls in love with her. She turns out to be none other than Cynthia, who, after luring him, weary and perplexed, through ‘cloudy phantasms’, bears him away to eternal life. With the main story are woven the legends of Venus and Adonis, of Glaucus and Scylla, and of Arethusa. The poem includes in Bk I the well‐known ‘Hymn to Pan’, and in Bk IV the roundelay ‘O sorrow’.

The allegory appears to represent the poet pursuing ideal perfection, and distracted from his quest by human beauty. The work was violently attacked in the Quarterly Review and in Blackwood's.

Subjects: Literature.

Reference entries

John Keats (1795—1821) poet

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