Two Tidbits About John Keats that I Learned from Reading Science Fiction

John Keats, the 19th century English Romantic poet, loved a woman named Fanny. That’s tidbit one. Fast forward to the last sentence if you want to skip the middle stuff and go directly to tidbit two.

Oddly enough, Keats, or at least his “cybrid” analog in the Hegemony, is a major character in the far future science fiction adventure, Hyperion and its sequel, The Fall of Hyperion, written by Dan Simmons.*

Googling Keats brought up a link to his works from which Simmons borrowed the titles for his books.

Hyperion is an abandoned epic poem by 19th-century English Romantic poet John Keats. It is based on the Titanomachia, and tells of the despair of the Titans after their fall to the Olympians. Keats wrote the poem from late 1818 until the spring of 1819, when he gave it up as having “too many Miltonic inversions.” He was also nursing his younger brother Tom, who died on 1 December 1818 of tuberculosis. 

The themes and ideas were picked up again in Keats’s The Fall of Hyperion: A Dream, when he attempted to recast the epic by framing it with a personal quest to find truth and understanding.

Dan Simmons’s novels pull off the amazing feat of combining old world sense and sensibilities with the ethics and challenges of a far reaching human presence in an infinite future universe.

I’m going to be honest and tell you, dear reader, that there were some small passages of Simmons’s books that I just did not comprehend. I often had to go back and reread and even read aloud certain passages, and still the technology was over my head. But the stories were so compelling that I was able to allow myself to be carried through those sections. Avid readers of science fiction will understand what I mean.

One thing’s for certain. I will be pondering Hyperion Cantos for a long time. Oh, tidbit two–I learned that John Keats was only five feet tall.

Peace, people!

*Hyperion Cantos is a four novel series. I just started book 3, Endymion.