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July 30, 1960


JAMA. 1960;173(13):1486-1487. doi:10.1001/jama.1960.03020310074022

Frederick von Schiller, Oliver Goldsmith, and John Keats are examples of illustrious poets who chose a career in medicine before they deviated to another professional path. Exposure to 18th or early 19th century literature probably began in college for most of us. A few learned of Keats and Shelley in the home when reading from the Bible before breakfast, reading from the literary masterpieces that reposed on the shelves of the front parlor, or serious supper conversation over contributions to Harper's Weekly and the Atlantic Monthly, was proper. Most every physician has read Gray's "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard." Not all have understood the implications. Possibly the "beatnik" of the 18th century could have interpreted word, phrase, and paragraph correctly, or incorrectly, depending on his obtuseness, but interpreted it nevertheless.

Walter A. Wells1 has described the medical findings of the events leading to the death of John Keats,

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