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This sonnet was written by John Keats, in about 1815. The subject is Thomas Chatterton, the seventeen-year old poet who committed suicide in 1770 rather than starve to death. Chatterton was quite among the literary circles of Keats' day, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge also wrote poetry about him.

This poem belongs with the very earliest of Keats' work, and as such is immature and a little shallow; he only began to find his own distinctive poetic voice in 1816, with "On First Looking into Chapman's Homer," although much of his earlier work is quite promising.

O Chatterton! how very sad thy fate!

O Chatterton! how very sad thy fate!
Dear child of sorrow - son of misery!
How soon the film of death obscur'd that eye,
Whence Genius mildly flash'd, and high debate.
How soon that voice, majestic and elate,
Melted in dying numbers! Oh! how nigh
Was night to thy fair morning. Thou didst die
A half-blown flow'ret which cold blasts amate.
But this is past: thou art among the stars
Of highest Heaven: to the rolling spheres
Thou sweetly singest: naught thy hymning mars,
Above the ingrate world and human fears.
On earth the good man base detraction bars
From thy fair name, and waters it with tears.

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