Keats wrote numerous minor poems while at Teignmouth and the first drafts are preserved in letters to Bailey, Reynolds and Haydon.
Keats wrote this sonnet, The Human Seasons, at Teignmouth in the second week of March 1818 and enclosed it in a letter to Benjamin Bailey dated 13 March, writing:
‘You know my ideas about Religion. I do not think myself more in the right than other people, and that nothing in this world is proveable. I wish I could enter into all your feelings on the subject merely for one short 10 Minutes and give you a Page or two to your liking. I am sometimes so very sceptical as to think Poetry itself a mere Jack a lanthen to amuse whoever may chance to be struck with its brilliance. As Tradesmen say every thing is worth what it will fetch, so probably every mental pursuit takes its reality and worth from the ardour of the pursuer–being in itself a nothing–Ethereal thing[s] may at least be thus real, divided under three heads–Things real–things semireal –and no things. Things real–such as existences of Sun Moon & Stars and passages of Shakspeare. Things semireal such as Love, the Clouds &c which require a greeting of the Spirit to make them wholly exist–and Nothings which are made Great and dignified by an ardent pursuit –which by the by stamps the burgundy mark on the bottles of our Minds, insomuch as they are able to “consec[r]ate whate’er they look upon”. I have written a Sonnet here of a somewhat collateral nature–so don’t imagine it an a propos des bottes. ‘
This particular work was first published in Leigh Hunt’s Literary Pocket-Book for 1819.
Want to know more? See the letter to Benjamin Bailey
and see the poem ‘The Human Seasons‘ here