Keats' first published poem appeared in The Examiner,
a lively radical weekly newspaper, on 5 May 1816. The sonnet 'To
solitude', with its controlled rhythm and youthful echoes of Wordsworth,
was a clear indication of his rapidly maturing talent. Signed simply
'J.K.', it attracted little public attention, but Keats was sufficiently
encouraged to persevere with his writing; by the end of the year
he had decided to give up the practice of medicine.
O SOLITUDE! If I must with thee dwell,
Let it not be among the jumbled heap
Of murky buildings; - climb with me the steep,
Nature's Observatory - whence the dell,
Its flowery slopes - its rivers crystal swell,
May seem a span: let me thy vigils keep
'Mongst boughs pavilioned; where the Deer's swift leap
Startles the wild Bee from the Fox-glove bell.
Ah! fain would I frequent such scenes with thee;
But the sweet converse of an innocent mind,
Whose words are images of thoughts refin'd,
Is my soul's pleasure; and it sure must be
Almost the highest bliss of human kind,
When to thy haunts two kindred spirits flee.