Event—Scholarly Seminars

Claire Connolly, University College Cork


Walking and Sailing West with John Keats: Belfast in 1818, Claire Connolly, University College Cork

In April 1818, John Keats wrote of the planned pedestrian tour though the Lakes and the Highlands as 'a sort of Prologue to the Life I intend to pursue—that is to write, to study and to see all Europe at the lowest expense. I will clamber through the Clouds and exist. I will get such an accumulation of stupendous recollections that as I walk through the suburbs of London I may not see them'. The Irish leg of his Scottish tour involved a sea crossing from Port Patrick to Donaghadee and resulted in a notable encounter with the miserable suburbs of Belfast and its inhabitants. The tone of the letters that Keats wrote from Ireland retain something of the enthusiasm of the young man who set out to garner 'an accumulation of stupendous recollections' but also register the bareness of marginal lives eked out on Irish and Scottish coasts. In doing so, they also open up an understanding of an Irish romanticism made with and alongside infrastructure, expressing a complex and vital relationship between people, places and history.

Respondent: James Chandler, University of Chicago