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This re-expression is so extensive that, it seems fair to say, Keats is enlisting Shakespeare as co-author. Shakespeare is Keats's "Chief Poet" ("On Sitting Down to Read King Lear Once Again" 7).
" I taped the paper to my door around 1990, after learning that several of my English department colleagues had lied to destroy another teacher's reputation and had falsified official college records and perjured themselves in a lawsuit.
Over the years the paper has been on my door, a number of persons have added their own comments, some ugly, some lovely.
In writing his "Ode on a Grecian Urn," Keats seems to be meditating on "The Phoenix and Turtle" almost to the extent that he is, within the fiction of the ode, contemplating an urn.
While describing and imaginatively engaging scenes depicted on the urn, he is giving expression or, rather, re-expression to Shakespeare's poem.
We know that he read Shakespeare with Charles Cowden Clarke, Benjamin Robert Haydon, Benjamin Bailey, and John Hamilton Reynolds.
His library included four collections of Shakespeare's works and two commentaries on them.(3) His copy of The Poetical Works of William Shakespeare (1806)--acquired in 1819, the year he wrote "Ode on a Grecian Urn"--contains "Threnos," the last five stanzas of "The Phoenix and Turtle." (4) While it is arguable that he read and refers solely to these stanzas, we shall see that he seems to engage the entire poem.His reading was not, after all, limited to the books in his library--he and his friends regularly lent one another books, and in November 1917, two years before acquiring The Poetical Works, he was reading "Shakespeare's poems" in an unspecified edition (Gittings 162). The urn is apparently decorated with a picture of a youth playing a flute in a pastoral setting and a young man chasing a young woman around the urn. It's from a poem, "Ode On A Grecian Urn," written by John Keats in May, 1819, when he was about 24.There is every reason to assume that he read "The Phoenix and Turtle." It would be surprising if he had not, though he makes no mention of it in his letters.The finale of his ode is the primary indication that he read it, and it is a convincing indication.Keats himself apparently never explained his intentions.He died of tuberculosis in 1821, only about eight years after beginning his career as a poet.The portrait below was made shortly before he died.There's also my own question, "Is this so--or is it just poetry?