The Museum Collection

Flower from the Tomb of Keats

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Date: October 26, 1854
Format: Paper with dried, pressed flower
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Source: Gift of Fayetta H. and Alberta W. Laighton
Collection: Poe Foundation, Inc.
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Description:

This pressed flower was picked from the grave of English Romantic poet John Keats (1795-1821) on October 26, 1854 and sent to Poe's Richmond friend John R. Thompson (1823-1873), the editor of The Southern Literary Messenger, which published a number of Poe's works in 1835-1837 and in 1848-1849. Since the piece was glued into an album, the other side of the paper is unreadable, and it is unknown who sent the flower to Thompson. The sender did, however, misspell Thompson's name as "Tompson."

Edgar Allan Poe admired and was influenced by the works of John Keats. In a July 2, 1844 letter to the poet James Russell Lowell, Poe writes, "I am profoundly excited by music, and by some poems -- those of Tennyson especially -- whom, with Keats, Shelley, Coleridge (occasionally), and a few others of like thought and expression, I regard as the sole poets."

Keats died at the age of twenty-five in Rome and was buried there. His monument reads, "This Grave / contains all that was Mortal / of a / Young English Poet / Who / on his Death Bed, in the Bitterness of his Heart / at the Malicious Power of his Enemies / Desired / these Words to be / engraven on his Tomb Stone: / Here lies One / Whose Name was writ in Water. 24 February 1821."

This manuscript was once in the autograph album of Lucy Dorothea Henry Laighton. Laighton's daughters gave the album, which also included some Poe manuscripts in addition to the autographs of over 250 other celebrities, to the Poe Museum in 1928.

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