"verses of Byron, Keats and Poe"
Lord Byron
Public DomainLord Byron - Credit: noelcollection.org

Byron and Keats were contemporary Romantic poets, and were great rivals during their lifetime.  While Byron was a flamboyant, handsome and rather wild nobleman, who was lauded and celebrated by England’s social elite, John Keats was a poor and struggling middle-class poet. Byron seemed hardly to put a foot wrong, whereas Keats’ work was often savaged by the critics. He was advised that poetry was the provenance of noblemen, was dismissed as a 'Cockney' poet, and only attained any real measure of fame after his death. 

Portrait of John Keats, 1819
Public DomainPortrait of John Keats, 1819 - Credit: Charles Brown
On hearing of Keats’ death, in 1821, Byron wrote to a friend, “I am very sorry for it - though I think he took the wrong line as a poet - and was spoilt by Cockneyfying and Suburbing - and versifying Tooke's Pantheon and Lempriere's Dictionary.”

Keats for his part had written to his brother George, in 1819, “You speak of Lord Byron and me - There is this great difference between us. He describes what he sees - I describe what I imagine - Mine is the hardest task.”