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19th century Romantic poem with illustrated books
August 11, 2008 9:58 PM   Subscribe

`The Eve of St. Agnes` (1819) is a poem based on a Medieval folktale by Romanticist John Keats. One of Keats most beloved poems, in the 19th and early 20th centuries it became a popular source of inspiration with at least 6 well-known painters such as William Holman Hunt and Arthur Hughes. There were also many beautifully illustrated books produced during this period, some of which are online.

My favorites from the "online" link (Flip Book to view):

*The Eve of St. Agnes (1900) calligraphy by Ralph Fletcher Seymour - pseudo-medieval manuscript w/ intro by Edmund Gosse
*The Eve of St. Agnes (1885) illus. by Edmund Garrett
posted by stbalbach (8 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
Thank you, stbalbach: excellent post. I've had the privilige of seeing some of these at the Tate Britain (and Mariana at their most recent Millais exhibition).
posted by Huw at 2:53 AM on August 12, 2008


So often the best posts get the least comments.

And apparently by my own metric I am deprecating this one, when what I really want to say is "Chin up, Chuck! And keep it up!"
posted by Wolof at 5:39 AM on August 12, 2008


Ah, I utterly love that poem. Utterly porny of course, like a lot of the Romantic stuff, with possibly the first strip tease in poetry:

Anon his heart revives: her vespers done,
Of all its wreathed pearls her hair she frees;
Unclasps her warmed jewels one by one;
Loosens her fragrant boddice; by degrees
Her rich attire creeps rustling to her knees:

I'm surprised the two pre-Raphealite paintings don't depict this scene - they weren't averse to half-dressed swoony maidens usually.
posted by low_horrible_immoral at 5:44 AM on August 12, 2008


"The hare limp'd trembling through the frozen grass."

Such a wonderful poem. So rich and lapidary in imagery.
posted by Haruspex at 6:09 AM on August 12, 2008


A splendid poem, and a splendid post.
posted by languagehat at 6:35 AM on August 12, 2008


It's a terrific poem, and lots of fun to teach, although the students don't always pick up on the blatant eroticism--most of which sends up the language of chivalric romance--when they read it on their own. ("Kids, why is his heart reviving? It's because she's taking her clothes off right in front of him!")
posted by thomas j wise at 2:09 PM on August 12, 2008


low_horrible_immortal, you reminded me of the Faerie Queene. While this stanza is not exactly a striptease (in Book II, Canto XII, two naked maidens in a fountain tease Guyon, the knight of temperance), it comes close:

The wanton Maidens him espying, stood
Gazing a while at his unwonted guise;
Then th'one her selfe low ducked in the flood,
Abasht, that her a straunger did avise;
But th'other rather higher did arise,
And her two lilly paps aloft displayed,
All all, that might his melting hart entise
To her delights, she unto him bewrayd:
The rest hid underneath, him more desirous made.
posted by duvatney at 3:41 PM on August 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


"An Ode to John Keats's Immortality", from The Washington Post, August 13, 2008.
posted by stbalbach at 9:47 AM on August 13, 2008


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