Poor Keats. A Scorpio with Virgo rising and, just to clinch the deal, his moon in Gemini. This is the equivalent of being dealt the Fool, the Lovers (inverted), and the Tower as the three culminating cards in an eleven-card Tarot reading. There is sadness in his life, illness, a consumptive cough. But he has a generous soul, he meets afflictions with renewed resolve, he is capable of great feats of self-discipline. Willing to work hours on meters and rhymes, he is a born dreamer, who can shut his eyes and transport himself in a second to fairy lands forlorn, an enchantment of mist, an early autumn of heirloom tomatoes and three varieties of peaches. Life is a struggle, but he prevails, and then dies young.
Born on the 31st of October, Keats had a soft spot for Halloween and tried his hand at writing spooky verses that would scare school chums sitting around the campfire during the season of burning leaves. The fact that his moon is in Gemini, that the nocturnal northeastern quadrant is predominant in his natal chart, and above all that Mercury is his ruling planet, supports the view of this poet as a divinely-ordained messenger of the gods trapped in the frail body of an undernourished London lad with his face pressed against the sweet shop window, as Yeats wrote.
Keats's Venus is, like his sun, in Scorpio. This is crucial. It means he is as passionate as he is sensitive and a gambler not by instinct or by social association but by his intransigent attachment to his ideals. He can be loved by many but reserves his own love for one. Auden's poem “The More Loving One” depicts a conflict that Keats resolved each time he picked up his pen to write. He felt he was destined to be the more loving one in any partnership, and he would not have had it any other way, but he didn’t live long enough to test his resolve.
Keats loved the four elements and presented their interplay with the clarity that Vermeer brought to the study of light. Vermeer, too, was born on Halloween. In an unpublished story by E. M. Forster with a strong hint of bisexuality and a blithe disregard of historical possibility, the seventeenth-century Vermeer and the nineteenth-century Keats -- accompanied by Dorothy Wordsworth (nineteenth century) and Virginia Woolf (twentieth century) – meet in Oxford and discuss aesthetics and metaphysics as they float slowly down the Isis on a punt.
The story that Keats died because of a bad review in an influential Edinburgh journal is to the biography of English poets what history was in the mind of the automobile manufacturer who invented the assembly line, bunk, but it was kept fresh by Byron’s oft-quoted couplet in Don Juan: “Tis strange the mind, that fiery particle / should be snuffed out by an article.” But the mischievous Byron, born on January 22 (1788) -- an Aquarius trailing clouds of Capricorn, and with Cancer as his rising sign -- was as conflicted on the subject of his younger Cockney-born contemporary as Emerson was about Whitman after the former praised the latter, who proceeded to enlarge Leaves of Grass almost beyond recognition.
The position of Mercury in the third house has caused the greatest amount of comment among professional astrologers. The consensus view is that Keats resembled certain musical geniuses in his extraordinary talent, his humble origins, and his early death. Though he was less dashing than the noble Byron and less angelic of aspect than Shelley, all the women polled said they would welcome a relationship with Keats, especially if she is in England while he is in Italy writing long gorgeous letters to her about Shakespeare plays, the nature of inspiration, the smell of mortality, and what Adam felt like waking up in Eden. Keats proved that greatness descends on the novice only after he has opened himself up to the risk of failure or embarrassment.
The muse visited Keats often in the spring of 1819. First came “The Eve of St. Agnes,” the lovers rushing away into the night; then “La Belle Dame Sans Merci,” the lover seduced and abandoned. These poems were as immediate as dreams. And then came the odes, the greatest odes that English has to offer: to Psyche, to a Nightingale, on a Grecian Urn, on Melancholy, to Indolence. No poet ever packed as much magnificence in a line or wrote stanzas of such melodious charm that a simple, naive statement of Platonic optimism, which in lesser hands would be anticlimactic or worse, should seem to penetrate the heart of the mystery: “Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty.”
 Note: If you mix up the names Keats and Yeats, or pronounce one as if it were the other, the chances of your appreciating either are diminished by a seventh but not eliminated. The two names are separated by nearly five decades but linked by lyrical genius, with the prophetic mode ascendant in Yeats, while Keats -- brainy, anxious, and quick as befits a son of Mercury -- wins the laurels for sensuality and freshness: the palpable bubbles in the wine glass, the burst of a grape in the satyr's mouth, the humming of flies on the porch screen in August, keen fitful gusts of wind.
Note: Readers of ‘astrological profiles’ know that the use of astrological terms is laid on pretty thick but with tongue in cheek, firmly so, on the nervy assumption that the horoscope -- like the ‘haruspicate or scry,’ ‘sortilege, or tea leaves,’ playing cards, pentagrams, handwriting analysis, palm-reading, and the ‘preconscious terrors’ of the dreaming mind in T. S. Eliot's ‘The Dry Salvages’ -- may be a bust at prediction bur may turn out to not only ‘usual pastimes and drugs’ but the means of poetic exploration.