The Keats Shelley Memorial House
The Keats Shelley House on the Spanish Steps is part of Roman folklore. For generations distinguished artists ,writers and poets have visited the house to pay tribute to two of England's greatest poets.
It might be considered less than poetic justice that two of England's greatest ever poets are not only buried on foreign soil but may be the only poets to whom a memorial house-now part of Roman folklore- has been dedicated in a country other than their own. The two poets were part of a long line of literary figures who went in exile,Henry James,Robert Frost,Samuel Beckett and T.S. Elliot being other good examples of exiled writers.
The two poets in question,John Keats and Percy Byshhe Shelley, are both buried in the attractive Protestant Cemetery in Rome whilst the Keats-Shelley Memorial House is located at No 26 Piazza di Spagna (the Spanish Steps).This ,of course,is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Eternal City.
Keats had actually gone to Rome on account of his health-he suffered from tuberculosis like other family members had. He thought the more benign climate might aid his recovery. The last few months of his life were spent in the Eternal City and it was at No 26 Piazza di Spagna that the London-born poet died at the tender age of 25. A brilliant literary career had tragically been cut short.
Percy Bysshe Shelley too had gone to Italy for a cure. He suffered from pulmonary disease. This wonderful writer observed... "...It might make one in love with death to think that one might be buried in so sweet a place." He penned these lines after mourning at Keats's grave, which was covered with violets. In just 18 months he was to join his great friend - he drowned after a boating accident during a violent storm off the coast of Viareggio.
The Protestant Cemetary in Rome is itself poetic! Just like a verdant green arboretum, tropical palms and sweet smelling palms thrive together with an assortment of magnolia, oleander, holly, mountain ash, camellias and daisies.A wonderful place for literary buffs to mourn two great poets.
Today the Memorial House contains one of the very best libraries of Romantic literature in the world.There is also a good deal of memorabilia related to the two brilliant poets at this fascinating place,which attracts researchers,literary buffs as well as large numbers of the public.
There are fascinating life and death masks of Keats,his original drawing of the Grecian Urn,a well documented and large display of manuscripts and letters,,and a reliquary containing a lock of Milton's and Elizabeth Barret's hair. There are also manuscripts and a poem by Oscar Wilde and a splendidly bound first edition of Shelley's Revolt of Islam.
The place has over the years been visited by many famous figures such as Hans Christian Andersen, Lord Byron, Browning, Goethe, Liszt, Stendhal, Tennyson, George Eliot,Oscar Wilde and Henry James.
If you visit the Eternal City include a visit to this wonderful place, which provides lots of information on two of England's greatest ever poets.