Today we’re going to meet another great writer belonging to the second generation of Romantic poets (he died at 26). When he was young he wanted to become a doctor but at 21 he abandoned medicine for poetry; thanks to that choice we can now enjoy his fantastic poems. All his life was characterized by his enduring and reciprocated love for Fanny Brawne. 

Here’s the beautiful love poem BRIGHT STAR you can also read in your textbookThe first video is the last scene of the movie when Fanny Browne recites the poem Keats had written for her. She had just been given the news of his death in Rome.

Let’s  watch the trailer of the movie about Keats and Fanny Brawne’s romance: Bright Star (2009) Director: Jane Campion Cast: Ben Whishaw (Keats), Abbie Cornish (Fanny Brawne), Kerry Fox (Mrs Brawne), Paul Schneider (Charles Armitage Brown).

AT HOME: Task 1Read A SHORT ACCOUNT of their thwarted love story.

As you know Keats moved to Rome hoping that the warmer climate would be beneficial to his illness, tuberculosis. The Keats-Shelley House  curator takes a walk through some of the rooms of the museum and explains why this place is so important. I went to visit it last February. One day, when in Rome you might decide to go there and visit it 🙂 

Another poem worth reading is the Ode to a Nightingale read by the actor of the movie Ben Whishaw. Here’s the poem in English & Italian

I cannot help adding the reading by the actor Benedict Cumberbatch, whose voice is just stunning!

As you can read in your textbook Keats believed in Beauty & the immortality of Art. His poetry claimed no moral or political purpose, thus anticipating the 19th century trend of ART FOR ART’S SAKE you have found in D’Annunzio & we’ll find in Oscar Wilde.

I end this post quoting the poet whose book of poems was found in Shelley’s pocket when he shipwrecked & died in the Gulf of Lerici.

“Beauty is truth, truth beauty’, – that is all

We know on earth , and all we need to know.”

To clarify what we said in class here’s a good explanation of NEGATIVE CAPABILITY. As Keats himself stated “Several things dovetailed in my mind, & at once it struck me, what quality went to form a Man of Achievement especially in Literature & which Shakespeare possessed so enormously — I mean Negative Capability, that is when man is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact & reason

ASSIGNMENT: either as a comment in Blog or oral in class: CHOOSE one

a) How much importance do people attach to beauty nowadays? What role does art play in your life?

b) How do you relate to the concept of Negative Capability, this idea of being RECEPTIVE, not seeking absolute knowledge, a kind of flexibility and openness to the world also regarded as a rejection of the tendency to rationalise? 


Year after year, when I face the decision of whether to deal with one particular author or poet rather than a more modern or contemporary one, I question myself on the real validity of teaching the classics instead of focusing on the contemporary writers. Well, I’ve reached, once more, the conclusion that in moments of great crisis we can find inspiration  in Poetry and we can look for comfort in the words of great men from the past who suffered like us and fought against tyrannies and injustices the way we try to. I firmly believe that studying literature and a poet like P.B.Shelley can help us cope with sorrow and believe in the possibility of rebirth and change. His fascinating figure and works have so much to teach us!

Therefore I decided to present this troubled and fascinating man in class creating an Emaze presentation, with the aim of conveying my passion for his poetry while interacting with you, my dear students.

Here’s the presentation Powered by emaze

To Flip the Classroom (what a paradox eh!) I’ve also decided to create a video from it, to help you study, revise for the exam and also for the ones who were absent. Hope you’ll appreciate my commitment. The video is too long, I know, and it’s taken me ages to do it; had to redo it several times due to Dream, my dog, jumping on me barking 🙂 or the telephone ringing and other funny incidents.

Therefore split it in two: during your session 1 stop after the video with the “Ode to the West Wind” at minute 13.17. During second session watch the second part.

Well, last but not least, as I was discussing with a colleague and friend of mine, I somehow object to this “teacher-centered approach”. Nevertheless, in a context where the other teachers mainly lecture with frontal lessons and the students have to study 4 or 5 subjects for the following day,  I have to use a “soft blended” approach and cannot push Flipping to the limit nor turn everything upside down. 😉

Feel free to leave a comment for future improvements.Thanks!