My earliest impressions of Keats were as a languishing poetic type, not a man of action. Now, after getting to know him through his letters (among the best I have read), he comes across as a vital, life-loving and out-stepping person, even though destroyed by illness at a young age.
Given his all-costs dedication to becoming one of the great writers, his placing writing next to – but not above – doing, underlines his whole-hearted, all-senses engagement with the world.
See also his dive-in-head-first sink-or-swim summation of writing a difficult poem.
‘I am convinced more and more day by day that fine writing is next to fine doing the top thing in the world.’
Source: 24 August 1819, John Keats, Selected Letters, ed. Robert Gittings (Oxford World Classics, 2002/2009), p. 262
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