Guernsey stamps: the odes of John Keats


24 July 2019
Six new stamps from Guernsey Post, issued on behalf of Alderney, spotlight the six odes of the poet John Keats, which were written 200 years ago this autumn.

The six stamps feature illustrations that bring to life the themes that poet John Keats conveying through each of his odes. He was just 24 when the odes were released to the public and had little time to enjoy their reception as within two years of their publication he was dead from tuberculosis. 

The stamps follow the order of publication, beginning with Ode to a Grecian Urn, shown on the 48p value. When the speaker of the poem gazes at the Grecian urn, he contemplates the nature of truth and beauty. Each of the three scenes depicted on the urn moves him differently and he describes them in detail, admiring their artistry.


Next is Ode on Indolence (65p): with Keats shown lying on the grass observing three ļ¬gures wearing white robes and ‘placid sandals’. Ode on Melancholy (66p) is possibly the most uplifting of Keats’s odes, telling the reader to savour the feeling of melancholy. The stamps shows a heavenly figure looking down onto a figure dressed in black, with a rainbow in the sky above.


Ode to a Nightingale, shown on the 80p stamp was inspired by a nightingale, showing here on the stamp singing in a wood whilst a tormented figure sits at its feet. The poem has a theme of the bitter-sweetness at the thought of the nightingale’s carefree life compared to that of a human, and reveals something of the poet’s melancholy state of mind. 


Stamp five (90p) profiles Ode to Psyche, a highly lyrical poem full of emotion. Here psyche is presented as a beautiful woman who has achieved the status of an immortal goddess thanks to her love for cupid. And finally we move to Ode to Autumn (98p) with a bright figure surrounded by leaves looking down benevolently onto a harvest landscape.


John Keats stamps

Issue date: 24 July 2019

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Design: Keith Robinson

Printer: Southern Colour Print

Print process: Offset lithography

Stamp size: 40mm x 30mm

Perforations: 13.33 x 13.60


To purchase the stamps, visit the Guernsey Post website.


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