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Honourable Discharge

by Sultana Raza

Life was fodder, spinning mind the loam,
Through earth, ether, far thoughts could roam.
As malignant fingers pricked his lungs,
Unfinished remained picturesque tomes.

Caught between forces, old and young,
Was penniless poet, too high strung.
As relentless disease furrowed lungs squeezed,
Hacked from above were his full rungs.

By pitiless physician was scarce breath teased,
From sick, hollowed body he’d been released,
If only slights so deeply he wouldn’t feel,
’twas just mortal coils that had deceased.

Envious entities were pleased to steal,
His rich hours became their meal.
Tried to tame his spirit, but not quite,
Had lush imagination been his main keel?

Couldn’t keep his dreams for long in sight.
No longer was he steeped in this flesh trite.
Would be free soon enough to roll in fancy’s foam,
Soul soared at last, higher than a kite.

* *

[Author’s note] Despite numerous obstacles, Keats managed to fulfill some of his poetical duties, which, he wrote, his own soul had decreed to him. He got an honourable discharge from life, which was so full of problems that it may have felt like a sentence on earth.

Did the Fates meddle too much in Keats’s life and steal his hours? He died too young. The physician in Rome seems to have misdiagnosed his condition, and his medical treatment would be considered inhumane these days.

Copyright © 2017 by Sultana Raza

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