Diary

John Keats foresaw Barack Obama

We’ve heard that Barack Obama finally realizes why he was put on the Earth. We know that this is the moment for which the world is waiting. Barack Obama has become a symbol of the possibility of America returning to our best traditions. (He did not specify to which traditions he will return us, but I suppose their very nice. You know, the Monroe Doctrine, manifest destiny, the pre-New Deal ethic, maybe the gold standard. Who knows but Barry?)

All this nonsense brings to mind the end of the third book of Keats’ fragment Hyperion. The printed version ends with the word “celestial,” but the tubercular genius penned a few words in his own hand afterward. Keats was writing of Apollo in 1819, as the gods rose and the titans fell. A quick substitution on my part gives us the sense that John Keats foresaw the coming of our political messiah.

At length
Apollo shriek’d; — and lo! from all his limbs
Celestial Glory dawn’d: he was a god!

(Or to paraphrase a line from Monty Python and the Holy Grail: “It’s only a model.”)