Ode to a Nightingale

Painter, Benjamin Haydon, was a friend of Keats, who was instrumental in Keats’ meeting William Wordsworth. Haydon arranged the meeting and later described it thusly: “I said he [Keats] has just finished an exquisite ode to Pan– and as he had not a copy I begged Keats to repeat it– which he did in his usual half chant, (most touching) walking up & down the room– when he had done I felt really, as if I had heard a young Apollo–

Wordsworth drily said– ‘a Very pretty piece of Paganism’–

This was unfeeling, & unworthy of his high Genius to a young Worshipper like Keats– & Keats felt it deeply– so that if Keats has said any thing severe about our Friend; it was because he was wounded– and though he dined with Wordsworth after at my table– he never forgave him.”

Haydon’s account is often doubted since he never said anything of the sort at any time soon after the meeting, and did not tell the story until decades after. On the other hand, Keats had this to say in a letter to his brothers: “Wordsworth has left a bad impression where ever he visited in town by his egotism, vanity, and bigotry.”

John Keats Contemporaries
William Maginn
Samuel Lover
Heinrich Heine
Aleksandr Pushkin

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