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Page last updated at 09:58 GMT, Friday, 23 March 2012

Keats' 'political' Ode to Autumn

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One of Keats' best loved poems is Ode to Autumn, it eulogises the English countryside, with its description of the water-meadows in Winchester.

However, researchers now believe the site Keats described was actually a nearby hill, currently occupied by a car park.

Professor Richard Marggraf Turley, of the Department of English and Creative Writing at Aberystwyth University, said that they found an engraving in a walking guidebook to Winchester that Keats used and noticed shadows of furrowed ploughed land.

After checking the leasehold, they discovered that it was held by a banker called Nicholas Waller who had been buying up all the land in the area.

He said that "suddenly the bucolic languor started to resonate in a more political way".

Professor Marggraf Turley and his colleagues concluded that Keats "got the conceptual energies and the political resonances from a political debate that was raging when he arrived in Winchester" and that "far from writing about contented labourers, he was writing about discontented labourers".


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