The Splendour of a Morning
Fancy: 8 Odes of John Keats
with fifteen wood engravings by Andy English
Of all the English Romantic poets, it is probably Keats who comes first to mind when readers think of the period. He is, with John Clare, the most directly sensual and the least complex of the Romantics, and while much of our understanding of Romantic spirit and thought comes from the writings of the first generation of Romantic poets, particularly Wordsworth and Coleridge, it is Keats’ poems which embody for most readers the essential spirit of the period. He has neither Byron’s acerbity and satirical edge nor Shelley’s political and social pleading. His poetic landscape, unlike Wordsworth’s English countryside, is more a neo-classical ideal, with a whiff of Poussin. His ambit is not the spirit itself, but the senses, and the spiritual resonance the senses draw from nature and art.
The greatness of Keats’ poetry was not recognized in his own lifetime, and when he died, he believed himself to have been a failure. It was largely through the championship of friends, especially Shelley, that his work was kept in the public eye. Here is Shelley in Adonais, his great elegy for Keats:
Later, Tennyson, Swinburne, Arnold, and Rossetti held him up to their own generations, and by the mid-Victorian period, forty years after his death, Keats was considered one of the greatest poets in the language.
His first great poem, the sonnet On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer was published when he was just 21, but most of Keats’ finest poems, the poems on which his reputation is based, were composed in a single year. In 1818 Endymion, a poem which had caused Keats great trouble, and with which he was himself unsatisfied, was published to savagely negative reviews. But within the following year, in 1819, he composed virtually all his best-known and loved poems: The Eve of St. Agnes, La Belle Dame sans Merci, Lamia, most of Hyperion, The Fall of Hyperion and the ‘Great Odes’ – Ode to Psyche, Ode on Melancholy, Ode to a Grecian Urn, Ode to a Nightingale, and To Autumn, which together are recognized as empirical examples of the genre. In February, 1821, he was dead of consumption. He was 25 years old.
Fancy: 8 Odes of John Keats contains all five of the ‘Great Odes,’ with the addition of three others: Ode: Bards of Passion and of Mirth, which was written on the blank leaf before The Fair Maid of the Mill in Keats’ edition of Beaumont and Fletcher’s plays; Ode on Indolence, an early piece in the strophic forms of the five great odes; and Fancy, from which this book takes its title. Fancy and Bards of Passion differ from the other six in the collection in being written in tetrameters and in a modified rondeau form, the first lines returning at the end to close the poems.
Our edition of these eight poems is designed in the same format as our 2003 edition of The Eve of St. Agnes, and like Eve is also illustrated by Andy English. Andy has provided fifteen engravings for Fancy – six half-page illustrations, eight ‘spots’ for the half-titles, and a full-page frontispiece. The poems are set in Poliphilus, and each begins with a different second colour for the opening line, which is set in Poliphilus Titling. The Standard edition is bound in quarter green cloth with a decorated paper created from printer’s flowers for the boards. Unlike The Eve of St. Agnes, Fancy is published in two states. The Deluxe edition is bound in quarter orange morocco with the same boards, and presented in a slipcase with a portfolio containing proofs of the engravings signed and numbered by Andy English.
For an review of Fancy, and reviews and photographs of some of our other books, please visit Chris Adamson’s excellent website Books and Vines, at http://booksandvines.com/
Some Comments By Readers
Fancy: 8 Odes by John Keats is published in an edition of 140 copies, of which 90 constitute the Regular state, and 40, the Deluxe, with 10 copies hors commerce.
DELUXE STATE: 40 COPIES. Text printed in Poliphilus and Blado with Poliphilus Titling for display, in various colours with black on Zerkall Book mouldmade paper, with sixteen engravings by Andy English printed from the wood. Bound in quarter orange morocco with decorated paper, numbered I – XL, and slipcased with a portfolio of proofs of the fifteen text engravings signed and numbered by Andy English.
REGULAR STATE: 90 COPIES. As the Deluxe state, but bound in quarter green silk with decorated paper, numbered 1 – 90, and not slipcased.
5 additional copies of each state, designated hors commerce, are reserved for the use of the press. Both states are bound by Alanna Simenson at Mad Hatter Bookbinding, Sooke, B.C.
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