His critical work, especially The Burden of the Past and the English Poet, responds to and anticipates some aspects of the work of Harold Bloom. His biographies of Keats and Johnson have enjoyed extraordinary reputations both as scholarly resources and as works of literature in their own right. Jane Kenyon, one of many writers to be influenced by the Keats biography, paraphrases it in her poem "Reading Late of the Death of Keats":
Clearly I had packed the wrong book
in my haste: Keats died, propped up
to get more air. Severn
straightened the body on the bed,
and cut three dampened curls
from Keats's head.