Saturday, July 07, 2007

Deathbed scene

Keats' house in Rome
I haven't visited PaNic RoMe for a while. My loss. Among his many wonderful photos of l'Urbe immortale, I came across the one above. It reminded me of a story my wife told me of her first and only visit to the city. She had filed in behind a group of tourists whose guide was giving them the lowdown on Keats and his death in that first-floor room next to the Spanish Steps.

It went like this. The poet's final moments were dramatic. His lover, Shelley, had rushed down from La Spezia to be with him. Shelley arrived tears bejewelling his cheeks and, uttering an anguished cry, threw himself on the prostrate Keats, who at that moment breathed his last (no doubt due to the impact).

My wife, who was a very earnest soul, and who had hitched round Europe with the complete Shelley and Milton in her rucksack, was outraged, and sought to remostrate with the reprobate guide. He ignored her. So did the tourists.

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