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The Poet Keats. London Hospital Medical Society


At a meeting of the London Hospital Medical Society, held on January 10, 1879, at the house of Mr. Hutchinson, Cavendish Square, a very able and interesting paper was read by the host on the medical poet, Keats, which was followed by a lively discussion. The Poet's chief composition, “Endymion,” was of course discussed by the essayist, who made various discriminative remarks upon its meaning. The question might have been asked whether Keats himself caught the psychological belief hidden in the ancient myth upon which this remarkable work of genius is founded? As no reference was made to this aspect of the question, we may say that Keats makes no allusion to the idea which we suggest underlies the fable. We beg to supply the omission. Every one knows that the Greeks regarded Selene as the cause of madness. It was under this influence Endymion fell. The form of his unwisdom for which he suffered need not be a matter for conjecture. Young and ardent he had gained a giddy height. Ambition beckoned him thither. Success turned his head. The kiss of Selene shadowed forth his fate. The Premier has made in his eulogy on the death of the Princess Alice the expression “the kiss of death,” a familiar phrase; and a physician, whose modesty does not permit us to mention his name, contributes some lines entitled “The Kiss of Madness,” suggested by the story of Endymion:—

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The British Journal of Psychiatry
  • ISSN: -
  • EISSN: 2514-9946
  • URL: /core/journals/the-british-journal-of-psychiatry
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The Poet Keats. London Hospital Medical Society

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