would still have been considered a great Romantic poet if he had lived to 75 rather than a mere 25.
We went to see Jane Campion's "Bright Star" last night. The complex we went to has several small theatres. One of the other theatres was showing some extra screenings of "Finding Beethoven" which led to talk of "Finding Mozart" and then the "die young at the apparent height of your powers for certain immortality" question.
I do wonder. Did Keats really write that well? Is it because he died young that he is considered so great? How much does the tragedy of his life influence our perception and understanding of his poetry? What was he really like? Precocious? No. What is it?
We saw Campion's understanding of him on screen - viewed from our own understanding, background and experiences. I know I saw it differently from my father who is, after all, male and much older, and from my aunt who is female and not much older than I am but a scientist rather than an artist. All of us however shared the wondering at how much the fact that Keats died so young was an influence. It is the same with Mozart, although he was not quite so young. He has a tragic life. He (apparently) composes very early. (I still wonder how much input others had into his childhood efforts.) He dies young. He must be a genius. Would Keats and Mozart have burnt out if they had lived a great deal longer? Yes, almost certainly. I wonder how we would have seen them then.
I am more inclined to believe genius of Beethoven because he was not getting the most essential feedback of all for a composer -auditory feedback. He was angry and frustrated - and rightly so. He was driven, unable to stop writing. He was probably an appalling person to be around but his life must have been hell on earth. For me his music has a complexity that Mozart lacks. Is it maturity or is it something else? I know others will disagree and even accuse me of sacrilege.
Keats is a Mozart of words for me but not a Beethoven. It is a matter of taste.
But the film was worthy of attention. I wonder whether a male could have directed it with the same sensitivity. Perhaps. Perhaps not. The question of a "tragic and die young life" remains.