The Eng. Lit. Patient

Jeremy Noel-Tod

  • The Invention of Dr Cake by Andrew Motion
    Faber, 142 pp, £12.99, February 2003, ISBN 0 571 21631 5
  • Public Property by Andrew Motion
    Faber, 112 pp, £6.99, May 2003, ISBN 0 571 21859 8

John Keats
John Keats
Please put your scarf on.

The author of these lines is J.D. Salinger’s fictional child-poet, Seymour Glass, showing a precocious acquaintance with literary history for an eight-year-old: his source seems to be an 1821 review of Adonais, Shelley’s elegy on Keats, in the Literary Gazette. The reviewer described the poem as a lament for

a foolish young man, who, after writing some volumes of very weak, and in the greater part, very indecent poetry, died some time since of a consumption: the breaking down of an infirm constitution having, in all probability, been accelerated by the discarding of his neckcloth, a practice of the Cockney poets, who look upon it as an essential to genius.

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