The Native Muse

  • Christine Gallant


The short poems that were unpublished during Keats’s lifetime, many of them epistolary, usually are not considered worthy of critical attention. There have been few studies of them. The best known of these poems is “Old Meg she was a gipsey,” generally seen as a footnote to Scott’s character Meg Merrilies in Guy Mannering and often relegated to children’s anthologies of poetry. Yet the unpublished poems that he wrote after the 1817 Poems number more than seventy. He copied out many and sent them to friends and relatives in letters. Most of the unpublished poems about the faerie were epistolary: the early “Unfelt, unheard, unseen,” and “Dear Reynolds, as last night I lay in bed”; “Old Meg she was a gipsey” that was written on the 1818 walking tour; and “When they were come unto the Faery’s court,” and “Song of Four Fairies” that were written in 1819, the year of his great faerie poems.


British Isle Original Title Greek Mythology Paradise Lost Sacred Tree 
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  1. 12.
    Joan Coldwell, “‘Meg Merrilies’: Scott’s Gipsey Tamed,” Keats-Shelley Memorial Bulletin, XXXII (1981), p. 33.Google Scholar
  2. 24.
    Homer Sykes, Celtic Britain, London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1997, pp. 10, 47.Google Scholar
  3. 34.
    Daniel Watkins, Keats’s Poetry and the Politics of the Imagination, Cranbury, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1989, p. 100.Google Scholar
  4. 47.
    Donald C. Goellnicht, The Poet-Physician: Keats and Medical Science, Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1984, p. 216.Google Scholar

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© Christine Gallant 2005

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  • Christine Gallant

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