Keats on how to be a genius

Famously:

It struck me what quality went to form a Man of Achievement, especially in Literature, and which Shakespeare possessed so enormously — I mean Negative Capability, that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason.

So easy to say. So difficult to do. But, when I stumbled on this in an old interview with Tom Stoppard, it reminded me of what I’ve sometimes said to people about why I left academic philosophy to write fiction. I wanted to give up arguing, and try representing instead.

“Politics and Art,” a little gem from Australian poet Les Murray’s fabulous collection Learning Human, is on a similar theme, and so short I can quote it in full:

Brutal policy
like inferior art, knows
whose fault it all is.

Here BTW is the grave of that very “one whose name was writ in water,” which I visited recently in the Protestant Cemetery in Rome.

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The name that the “young English poet” thought was doomed to disappear was kept alive by the friend buried next to him, artist Joseph Severn.