Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;
Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear'd
Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone:
Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave
Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare;
Bold lover, never, never canst thou kiss,
Though winning near the goal- yet do not grieve;
She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss,
For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair
-From "Ode on a Grecian Urn" by John Keats
Next year marks the bicentennial of the birth of English poet John Keats, and the students and faculty of Lake Highland Preparatory School in Orlando, Fla., are gearing up to launch a marketing campaign to refurbish the house where he wrote "Ode on a Grecian Urn" and other great works.
The students are preparing a Keats coloring book to raise money for the "Save Keats House" campaign, and they're thinking about designing a Keats bicentennial logo for T-shirts and other merchandise.
My oldest granddaughter, Candace, attends kindergarten at Lake Highland, and the other day Dr. Bob Mayfield, president of LHPS, and two of the teachers talked about the students' enthusiasm for the Keats effort. The children want to sell 500 copies of the coloring book at Keats House. Grades 7-12 planted a replica of Keats' garden, using math skills to figure angles and measurements. Candace and her class are working on a song about Keats. High-tech school that it is, the students will prompt an international chat about Keats on the Internet. They love the guy!
My contribution to the discussion was to mention that the Keats bicentennial is exactly the kind of event that upscale advertisers (and advertisers aspiring to be ones) would support. I can see Visa and American Express fighting over the privilege to become the exclusive charge card for Keats House tours and merchandise. Why couldn't Sears send Bob Vila to spruce up Keats House with some WeatherBeater paint? There are plenty of projects that are in need of money, even though the city of London has agreed to take the house under its protection-re-doing the water-damaged rooms and electrical system and repairing the garden. As LHPS teachers Brenda Walton and Jeannie Robinson wrote me: "An underground stream has surfaced in the back that needs attention; [Keats House curator Christina] Gee suggested creating a small water garden. What a great attitude for our students to learn; take a disaster and turn it into a lily pad!"
So here's a great opportunity for advertisers to lend a hand (the kids are also looking for a publisher for their Keats coloring book) and also participate in an important literary milestone. As Keats wrote in one of the 4,000 lines of "Endymion": "A thing of beauty is a joy forever." The Keats project has grown from the "hearts and minds" of the students, as Brenda and Jeannie told me. "In our classes we are often given the chance to see-sometimes literally, on the faces of our students-what learning, confidence and courage can mean." There's a lot of beauty and joy in that kind of sentiment.