A day of special events is being held to celebrate the bicentenary of the visit to Chichester of one of the country’s best-loved poets, John Keats.
After visiting the cathedral and the Vicars Hall, Keats was inspired by the medieval architecture and atmosphere to begin writing one of his most famous poems, The Eve of St Agnes, a romantic tale of love and conflict in the tradition of Romeo and Juliet.
Taking place on Saturday, January 19, which is the evening of the Eve, St Pancras Church will host talks, lectures, a dramatic reading about the short, tragic but productive life of Keats and a reading of his famous poem.
Also featured will be a ‘poetic happening’ staged around the city’s famous statue of the poet by local sculptor Vincent Gray, which is situated in Eastgate, opposite the house where Keats lived.
The highlight of the day will be a dramatic reading of a brand new script by film-maker Peter Phillips.
The events are being organised jointly by the University of Chichester and the South Downs Poetry Festival.
Festival director Barry Smith said: “The idea is to breathe life into the wonderful poetry Keats bequeathed us. We felt that the bicentenary needed to be marked in a way that would help people appreciate what Keats was like as a man and what inspired him to write. Keats is the absolute image of the romantic poet – dying so young but writing words that still mean so much to people today.”
The university is contributing a talk by Professor Fiona Price on Keats and history, while distinguished academic, Professor Nicholas Roe, will give a lecture on Keats and the Eve of St Agnes.
The evening begins at 5.15pm with the talk and lecture at St Pancras Church, Eastgate, Chichester. Further information can be found at: sdpf.org.uk