Even though we have to leave Casa Le Crete a day before to catch the Alitalia Miami Rome flight, it does offer an excuse for an overnight in Rome. We usually drop (ditch) the car at the airport and book in at the Airport Hilton that provides a free shuttle into the city center. We love this feature of the hotel as it gives us an opportunity to do a bit of exploration before heading home. This time we decided to visit the Keats-Shelley House at the bottom of the Spanish Steps.
As this month’s prompt from #DolceVitaBloggers coincides with Valentine’s Day and the topic was a ‘love letter to Italy’, I thought I would write about these poets from the Romantic era whose love for Italy shown a light on this wonderful country and enticed me to fall in love with Italy as well as their poetry.
John Keats and Percy Shelley
I must admit I was clueless about these two writers, but without even knowing anything about their work, the house itself was a treasure. You enter through an unimposing door to the right of the Spanish steps and work your way up the narrow staircase to the house/museum. You are transported back into a more seemingly serene time where books line the walls (more than 8,000 of them) and the wooden writing desks richly waxed and deep mahogany in color seem to be waiting for their writers to return and resume their musings.
John Keats and Percy Shelley came to Rome as did so many others before them for a century as the Grand Tour was considered to complete a gentleman’s cultural education and refinement. In the case of John Keats, he also came to Rome for the mild climate in an effort to try and alleviate his poor health.
Keats (31 October 1795 – 23 February 1821) was an English Romantic poet. He was one of the main figures of the second generation of Romantic poets, along with Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley, despite his works having been in publication for only four years before his death at age 25 in the year 1821.
The poetry of Keats is characterized by sensual imagery, most notably in the series of odes. This is typical of romantic poets, as they aimed to accentuate extreme emotion through the emphasis of natural imagery. Some of the most acclaimed works of Keats are “I Stood Tip-toe Upon a Little Hill”, “Sleep and Poetry“, and the famous sonnet “On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer“.
Percy Bysshe Shelley (4 August 1792 – 8 July 1822) is one of the epic poets of the 19th century, and is best known for his classic anthology verse works such as Ode to the West Wind and The Masque of Anarchy. He was a passionate idealist and consummate artist who, while developing rationalthemes within traditional poetic forms, stretched language to its limits in articulating both personal desire and social altruism.
John Keats in a letter to his brother George, September 1819:
‘You speak of Lord Byron and me – There is this great difference between us.
He describes what he sees – I describe what I imagine – Mine is the hardest task.’
Next time you are passing through Rome don’t overlook this tiny gem of a museum!!!