Skip to main content

30% Off New Releases: Explore the List

Harvard University Press - home

A Greeting of the Spirit

Selected Poetry of John Keats with Commentaries

Susan J. Wolfson

ISBN 9780674980891

Publication date: 10/31/2022

Request exam copy

A Times Literary Supplement Book of the Year

A renowned Keats scholar illuminates the poet’s extraordinary career, in a new edition featuring seventy-eight verse selections with commentary.

John Keats’s career as a published poet spanned scarcely more than four years, cut short by his death early in 1821 at age twenty-five. Yet in this time, he produced a remarkable—and remarkably wide-ranging—body of work that has secured his place as one of the most influential poets in the British literary tradition. Celebrated Keats scholar Susan J. Wolfson presents seventy-eight selections from his work, each accompanied by a commentary on its form, style, meanings, and relevant contexts.

In this edition, readers will rediscover a virtuoso poet, by turns lively, experimental, self-ironizing, outrageous, and philosophical. Wolfson includes such well-known favorites as Ode to a Nightingale, Ode on a Grecian Urn, To Autumn, La Belle Dame sans Merci, and The Eve of St. Agnes, as well as less familiar poems, several in letters to family and friends never meant for publication. Her selections redefine the breadth and depth of Keats’s poetic imagination, from intellectual jests and satires to erotic bandying, passionate confessions, and reflections on mortality.

The selections, presented in their order of composition, convey a chronicle of Keats’s artistic and personal evolution. Wolfson’s revealing commentaries unfold the lively complexities of his verbal arts and stylistic experiments, his earnest goals and nervous apprehensions, and the pressures of politics and literary criticism in his day. In critically attentive and conversational prose, Wolfson encourages us to experience Keats in the way that he himself imagined the language of poetry: as a living event, a cooperative experience shared between author and reader.

Praise

  • Wolfson’s commentaries offer ‘tutorials’…in how to savour Keats’s poetry, arousing the sort of intense appetite that Keats felt for Homer. Each commentary is an immersion in language and effect, thickened by attention to a web of references…As a ‘series of close encounters’, A Greeting of the Spirit lends itself to browsing; the reader can drop in on her commentaries, skip and re-read them with pleasure.

    —Christy Edwall, Times Literary Supplement

Author

  • Susan J. Wolfson is a leading expert on the poetry of John Keats. Her many books include Reading John Keats, Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey: An Annotated Edition, The Annotated Frankenstein, and John Keats (A Longman Cultural Edition). She is Professor of English at Princeton University.

Book Details

  • 480 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Belknap Press

Recommendations