Thursday, December 15, 2011

Happy Birthday, dear Jane...a gift from John Keats

I started reading Austen as a young teenager and by the time I went to college had finished my first time through the six novels, with some of them read multiple times already. When I was a sophomore in college, I took a class on John Keats poetry...that's right, one class on just Keats. I found a new favorite, and because I was still youngish and my brain was still being hardwired, I have forever linked Austen and Keats together. They were sort of the Marilyn Monroe and James Dean of the Regency artistic world. Both possessed huge talents, both were largely unknown during their life, both died relatively young (though Keats died at the heartbreakingly young age of 25), and both are now considered giants of English literature.

Keats' first poem was published in May 1816 in The Examiner. I have never read anything that suggests that Austen read this poem, and considering that she was ill from early 1816 until her death in July 1817, it's probably not likely. Nor, have I ever read that Keats read anything by Austen. Again, given her relative obscurity at the time of her death and his focus on poetry and not novels, I think it highly improbable that he did.

And yet, I believe they would have appreciated each other's work, and not just because I love both of them so much. I find it almost a tragedy that the arcs of their lives were such that they just missed each other.

Keats' deeply introspective, pastoral, and highly imaginative poetry is not unlike Austen's highly-crafted, nuanced, multi-layered stories in that both display a tension between passion and restraint, humility and talent, sense and sensibility.

And so, for my gift to Jane Austen, on this the 236th anniversary of her birthday, I give her John Keat's beautiful poem, When I Have Fears, which was written in 1818 and published posthumously in 1848. I think Austen might have been able to understand the anguish that Keats felt in frantically trying to realize his life's work before he died. I also feel that Austen might've traded her current fame for a few more years on earth. She left so much unfinished.

When I Have Fears
by John Keats

When I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has glean'd my teeming brain,
Before high piled books, in charact'ry,
Hold like rich garners the full-ripen'd grain;
When I behold, upon the night's starr'd face,
Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
And think that I may never live to trace
Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance;
And when I feel, fair creature of an hour,
That I shall never look upon thee more,
Never have relish in the faery power
Of unreflecting love!—then on the shore
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think
Till Love and Fame to Nothingness do sink.

In honor of Austen's birthday, I am giving away two books.

1) My own Intimations of Austen, a collection of Austen-inspired short stories.

2) Sense and Sensibility (Marvel Comics) edition, which I reviewed here.

To enter, please leave a comment and email address. For an additional entry, Tweet and let me know. I will collect all entries and do two drawings, with the first winner getting Intimations and the second winner getting S&S Marvel. This is open internationally, so comment and tweet away! Drawing ends on Thursday, December 22 at 8 pm MT.

Please visit the other 31 bloggers, authors and literature enthusiasts, who are participating in this Austen Birthday Soiree, organized by Katherine Cox of November’s Autumn & Maria Grazia of My Jane Austen Book Club.

Participants in Austen’s Birthday Soiree

Sharon Lathan
Giveaway: one copy of Miss Darcy Falls in Love

O! Beauty Unattempted
Giveaway: one copy of Letters of Love & Deception

Austenprose Giveaway: one signed copy of Jane Austen Made Me Do It

SemiTrue Stories
Giveaway: one copy of Mr. Darcy's Little Sister (open internationally)

First Draft Giveaway: one signed copy of My Jane Austen Summer and a package of Lily Berry’s Pink Rose Tea by Bingley’s, Ltd.

Regency Sketches Giveaway: one copy of I was Jane Austen's Best Friend, by Cora Harrison

Brant Flakes Giveaway: A canvas ACCORDING TO JANE tote bag and a pair of A SUMMER IN EUROPE luggage tags

Mesmered’s Blog Giveaway: one copy of Georgiana Darcy’s Diary: Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice continued, by Anna Elliott

The Heroine’s Bookshelf Giveaway: Pride and Prejudice notecards, by Potter Style

vvb32 reads Giveaway: Jane Austen’s Little Instruction Book (Charming Petites), by Jane Austen, edited by Sophia Bedford-Pierce, illustrated by Mullen & Katz, introduction by Barbara Paulding

The Fiction vs. Reality Smackdown Giveaway: 2 Jane Austen candles and 2 signed copies of Definitely Not Mr. Darcy plus drink coasters and tea!

ReginaJeffers’s Blog
Giveaway: one signed copy of Christmas at Pemberley

Alyssa Goodnight Giveaway: one Jane Austen Action figure

Jane Austen in Vermont Giveaway: 2012 calendars from the Wisconsin JASNA Region

Jane Started It! Giveaway: one copy of Young Master Darcy: A Lesson in Honour, by Pamela Aidan; one set of Frederick Wentworth, Captain (Books 1 and 2), by Susan Kaye; two copies of Mercy’s Embrace: So Rough a Course (Book 1), by Laura Hile; one copy of George Knightley, Gentleman (Books 1 and 2), by Barbara Cornthwaite

Choc Lit Authors’ Corner Giveaway: one copy each of Persuade Me and The Importance of Being Emma

Reading, Writing, Working, Playing Giveaway: one copy each of Intimations of Austen and Sense & Sensibility (Marvel Illustrated)

The Jane Austen Film Club Giveaway: a copy of Northanger Abbey DVD starring Felicity Jones and JJ Feild (The winner will choose region 1 or 2 DVD)

El Salón de Té de Jane Giveaway: one copy of the Spanish edition of Sense and Sensibility and one copy of DVD package with adaptations of Jane Austen. (It’s only zone 2, but it’s in Spanish and English ), and one copy of BBC’s Emma with Romola Garai (Blue-ray)

Kaitlin Saunders Giveaway: one copy of A Modern Day Persuasion

One Literature Nut Giveaway: selection of Austenesque Reads

Patrice Sarath Giveaway: one copy of The Unexpected Miss Bennet

Jane Austen Brasil Giveaway: DVD – Sense and Sensibility (1995) – English / Portuguese subtitles

Jane Austen Sequels Giveaway: one mug with one of Jane Odiwe’s illustrations and one copy of Mr. Darcy’s Secret

Stiletto Storytime Giveaway: one copy of Noble Satyr by Lucinda Brant (Regency Romance)

Jennifer W. Becton Giveaway: one copy of the eBook of the Personages of Pride and Prejudice Collection, which contains Charlotte Collins, “Maria Lucas,” and Caroline Bingley. Open internationally.

Urban Girl Takes Vermont Giveaway: a copy of Vera Nazarian’s gift hardcover edition of her inspirational calendar and diary, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration

Pemberley Variations Giveaway: one signed copy of Mr. Darcy’s Undoing

AustenAuthors Giveaway: one copy of Georgette Heyer’s Regency World, by Jennifer Kloester

November’s Autumn Giveaway: one $10 B&N Gift-card (US only)

My Jane Austen Book Club Giveaway: A selection of Austenesque reads


  1. Oh, dear. I thought it was the 17th. Thanks for correcting me! I would also like to enter the drawing, if possible.

  2. Keats and Austen! I love them both too. It would have been very interesting for them to have met.
    Please enter me in your generous draw. I would love to win either book.

  3. Thank you for making it open to all. Much appreciated!

  4. Keats! What a beautiful gift that does speak of a young person's regrets. 'Never have relish in the faery power of unreflecting love' so sad.

    Thank you for the giveaway opportunity.

  5. Thank you. John Keats is my favorite male poet, and has been for 40 years. There's something perfect when a man can be so heartbreaking with his words and so beautiful, too. Keats has just always touched something deeper than words in me. I'm not sure I even get what that is...
    I love it that you connected him with Jane Austen. Isn't it wonderful they did pass through the same time, space plane together; and, who knows, perhaps they were aware of each other in some way and through some mechanism we don't know about. Stranger things have happened. Certainly the Bronte sisters were in the news and they knew Miss Austen...
    Anyway, thank you for sharing.
    And, I thank you for the opportunity to win your giveaway.

  6. I'm sure Jane would have liked him as much as we do.
    Happy birthday Jane!

  7. Happy birthday indeed. I write my Fun Facts Friday post on her

  8. Poem from Keats is a lovely idea. arianne(dot)hartsell(at)gmail(dot)com

  9. What a wonderful gift for Jane! Keats is wonderful and I'm sure she would have loved it!

    Thanks for the giveaways!

  10. Happy Birthday Jane!!!

    thanks for the giveaway!

  11. "When I Have Fears" - what a poignant poem. Yes, I think you are right. Miss Austen would have identified with the sentiment. I have only recently "discovered" Keats, though of course I knew of him for years.

    Thank you for sharing the poem and offering the giveaway. I'd love to be chosen as a winner!

    Happy Jane's Birthday!

  12. Maybe I should also leave my email, eh? I am the Lisa above.

  13. Hmmm, not sure if the google ID includes the email - millernumber1(at)gmail(dot)com

  14. Happy Birthday, dear Jane! I would like to win S&S Marvell..
    Lia Freitas

  15. I love Keats' poetry - and I agree that Jane Austen would have appreciated his poems - excellent choice!

  16. Ah, Keats *sigh* I expect it is a given that I love Austen too :)

    I'd love to be entered into the draw: irisonbooks [at] gmail [dot] com

  17. Bonnie W. CarlsonDecember 16, 2011

    Keats and Austen! What a brilliant combination!

  18. I didn't know this beautiful and touching poem by Keats, so this has also been a great gift to me and I want to thank you for that.
    I loved your post in honor of Miss Austen and I would really like to read your book.


  19. Happy birthday to Jane, and thank you so much for the giveaway!


  20. I tweeted here:!/LenaMaxw/status/147778311928557568


  21. Thank you for the giveaway!
    Tweeted at @ierlynn

    Happy Birthday Jane Austen!

  22. The Keats poem you chose is so apt, and one of my favorites, too. Please enter me in the book draw--but I already have the comic. Thank you!

  23. Oh how lovely, just heard so many good things about the marvel comic and here you have it. So excited to win your IMITATIONS OF AUSTEN, thanks for thinking of the rest of us.

  24. I am finding so many great Austen sites today. Thanks for the lovely poem.

  25. What a wonderful gift!

    Happy birthday Jane!

    Thanks for the giveaway!
    Tweeted @becksterbek

  26. Thank you for the chance to win as we celebrate Jane's birthday!

  27. keats! you have won our hearts! excellent gift! tweeting this as well

  28. A poem from Keats... just lovely. Thank you for being a part of this wonderful celebration and thank you for the lovely giveaways! Happy birthday Jane!

    another Lisa =D
    lcsieck at gmail dot com

  29. Poetry is my bane. I am happy that you chose Keats for this piece.

  30. How lovely and touching - note to self: read more Keats.


  31. that was lovely. I love them both too.

    araminta18 (at) gmail (dot) com

  32. Lovely post! Happy Birthday Jane! Thanks for the giveaway!

  33. Lovely post! Keats is a wonderful poet. :)

    Thank you for the giveaway!


  34. Very nice birthday post!!

    Thanks for the giveaway!

    kewinkler at gmail dot com

  35. I'm enjoying all the posts so much!
    I'm sure Jane would have appreciated Keats's poem very much, too. Well, she does from her very privileged "observation point" :-)
    I'd love to win the
    Sense and Sensibility (Marvel Comics) edition, not because I don't love your little gems of Intimations, but because I already have my very appreciated signed copy :-)
    Thanks for joining us , Jane.

  36. The poem do speak volumes and I think JA would like it.


  37. Great, great post! I love the pairing: Keats and Austen, vary fitting poem.


    felicialso @gmail .com

  38. I own the Marvel version of Pride and Prejudice, I would love the Sense and Sensibility!

  39. John Keats was a lovely poet and I think that Jane Austen and him would have got along just fine. Amazing how Jane Austen's Birthday can connect so many different people from so many different countries all over the world and make them convey in the same place. Thanks for a lovely giveaway.

    Cinta García de la Rosa

  40. A beautiful gift. Sure to be appreciated.


  41. Happy Birthday, Jane! What a great giveaway.


  42. Tweeted:!/Margay/status/148436644280803328

  43. What a lovely gift. I am a fan of Keats as well, and it is too bad that he and Austen were very likely unfamiliar with one another. But maybe they're hanging out together somewhere now :) You never know...

    Thank you for the giveaway and happy birthday, Jane!

  44. I tweeted about this post

  45. Jane, What you wrote here about Jane Austen and Keats is extraordinarily beautiful and sensitive--clearly the fruit of your long appreciating them and internalizing their essential gifts. "both display a tension between passion and restraint, humility and talent, sense and sensibility"; this feels so true and I would never have made this connection before. I also found your closing sentiments very moving.

    You don't need to enter me in the drawing, since I already own your wonderful story collection, Intimations of Austen, and I hope you can share it with someone new. Thanks, Lucy

  46. as a good geek and austenlover, I need this marvel comics... and KEATS? damn, you're wonderful...

    my email is:

  47. Wonderful post Jane. Makes me want to see Bright Star again. I cried so hard with Fanny Brawne in that film. Sigh! What a lovely poem you chose as a gift!

  48. very beautiful and poetic :)

  49. What a beautiful gift you gave.You remind me of My Father's love of poetry.I'm so sorry I don't tweet.Please do include me in the giveaway.I became your new follower.I do blog so please visit me and stay awhile. Denise

  50. I was not able to follow you,I don't see your friends Connect by Google?How do you have follower's?So Sorry.

  51. I like the link you created between your favorite poet, and Jane.
    Happy Birthday Miss Austen, I wish you the happiest of birthdays in a heaven surrounded by friends, and congratulations to all who celebrate it like a dear friend’s birthday.
    My e-mail address is

  52. Happy Happy Birthday Miss Austen and thanks for the lovely gift idea and giveaway!

    stilettostorytime at gmail dot com

  53. Happy 236th Jane Austen! Love the Keats poem!

  54. Happy bday Jane!!!!

    My email is:


  55. I've never before linked Jane Austen and Keats together in my mind, but now that you've mentioned it- wouldn't it have been just so perfect?

    Thank you for this great giveaway! I haven't a yet,sadly, been able to get to Sense and Sensibility. Thanks for this chance:)

    +1 Tweeted:!/SweetNSensible/status/149716398459994112

  56. Thank you for the giveaway!


  57. I'm a bit behind on reading all the posts for the Soiree. Thank you for joining us, Jane! I hope you have a beautiful Holiday and New Year. :)

    What a lovely gift for Jane! I haven't read Keats yet, I've been focusing so much on prose but I plan to read Emily Bronte's poems next year and perhaps Keats will be next... I really want to read Tennyson too.

  58. This post made me smile.:) Thank you.

  59. Thank you so much for the giveaway!