New findings from a study of Keats’s poem “To Autumn” reveals that the poet suffered from chronic diarrhoea brought on while he was researching the famous poem which will be taught to a new generation of school children this month.
“Keats’s gorging on the seasonal glut of fruit and veg almost certainly meant repeated visits to the privy, referred to in code in the line “sitting careless on a granary floor” Dr Ann Smyth from the University of Warwick said. “When Keats wrote “how to load and bless/With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run” he himself was suffering from terrible runs.”
It’s understood that Samuel Taylor Coleridge, meanwhile, would have suffered year round constipation as a result of his opium use. “Keats and Coleridge certainly met at least once, and while they discussed aesthetics and other literary matters, there’s no record of a discourse over the contrasting state of their respective lower intestinal tracts,” argues Dr Smythe in an article for the Times Literary Supplement, entitled “Irritable Vowel Syndrome”.
Dr Smythe writes “Had they compared faecal rather than poetic output, Coleridge could have recommended opium to Keats, and Keats could have reciprocally pointed Coleridge to some high fibre sources. But great artists draw on adversity as well as beauty for inspiration, and the world could have been the poorer in terms of verse, had these two great men solved each others' arse problems.”