The Romantic poet John Keats, considered by many as one of the greatest poets in the English language, has long been the subject of attention from scholars who seek to understand him and poets who seek to emulate him. Bridging these impulses, A Brighter Word Than Bright is neither historical biography nor scholarly study, but instead a biography of Keats’s poetic imagination. Here the noted poet Dan Beachy-Quick enters into Keats’s writing—both his letters and his poems—not to critique or judge, not to claim or argue, but to embrace the passion and quickness of his poetry and engage the aesthetic difficulties with which Keats grappled.

Combining a set of biographical portraits that place symbolic pressure on key moments in Keats’s life with a chronological examination of the development of Keats-as-poet through his poems and letters, Beachy-Quick explores the growth of the young man’s poetic imagination during the years of his writing life, from 1816 to 1820. A Brighter Word Than Bright aims to enter the poems and the mind that wrote them, to explore and mine Keats’s poetic concerns and ambitions. It is a mimetic tribute to the poet’s life and work, a brilliant enactment that is also a thoughtful consideration.

“This book on inspiration and imagination in Keats is nothing if not itself inspired and imaginatively backed up by example and original analysis. Dan Beachy-Quick brings Keatsian depth and texture to his study, which is as much a poetry biography as it is an incredibly close reading of the major poems.”—Stanley Plumly
A Brighter Word Than Bright ingeniously traces Keats’s development and ethos as a writer, from the ‘erotic effort’ of the poem and the ‘great silence of the Grecian urn’ to the ‘abyss in all its varieties.’ We are deftly escorted to a molten realm, where, through drone of bee and webs finely wrought we enter into intimations of Keats’s vision. Dan Beachy-Quick writes: ‘Sometimes I think a poetic presses down upon the poet’s mind as does a seal upon the soft wax that closes a letter.’ With exquisite delicacy and ardent quiescence, this text impresses renewed and intricate paths upon which the reader may traverse and inhabit the texts of one of the most beloved of poets.”—Laynie Browne, author, Roseate, Points of Gold
“In a series of lined meditations that are also incantations, Dan Beachy-Quick explores the lyrical richness of Keats’s poetry. With the eye of an artist, the ear of a musician, and the precision of a scholar, Beachy-Quick takes us on a journey through the many contradictions and innovations of Keats’s process.”—Debbie Lee, author, Romantic Liars
“Beachy-Quick effortlessly subverts the standards of conventional literary biography, weaving together critical analysis, excerpts from Keats’s poems, and his own thoughts on Keats’s relationship to his writing. . . . Beachy-Quick contributes new insights on a much-ruminated-upon literary figure, and through his beautiful prose, provides fresh ideas on creativity and genius.”—Publishers Weekly
"A very good book but a specialized one. Its audience will be primarily devoted Keats readers, poets, and teachers of poetry. While this is not an easy book to absorb, it's worth the effort."—Library Journal starred review

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Publication Details

Publication Date
184 pages
Trim size
5 x 8 1/2 inches