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John Keats (1795-1821)
Transcript of John Keats (1795-1821)
"He was not merely the `favorite of all,' like a pet prize-fighter, for his terrier courage; but his high-mindedness, his utter unconsciousness of a mean motive, his placability, his generosity, wrought so general a feeling in his behalf, that I never heard a word of disapproval from any one, superior or equal, who had known him."
Surgeon to Poet
"From his earliest boyhood he had an acute sense of beauty, whether in a flower, a tree, the sky, or the animal world; how was it that his sense of beauty did not naturally seek in his mind for images by which he could best express his feelings? It was the `Fairy Queen' that awakened his genius. In Spenser's fairy land he was enchanted, breathed in a new world, and became another being. . . ." Soon, wrote Brown, he "was entirely absorbed in poetry."
"Mr. Keats goes out of himself into a world of abstraction:—his passions, feelings, are all as much imaginative as his situations . . . when he writes of passion, it seems to have possessed him. This, however, is what Shakespeare did."
"Keats was not in childhood attached to books. His penchant was for fighting. He would fight any one.“
"Medical knowledge was beneath his attention," said his fellow student and roommate, Henry Stephens, "no—Poetry was to his mind the zenith of all his Aspirations—The only thing worthy the attention of superior minds.... The greatest men in the world were the Poets, and to rank among them was the chief object of his ambition.... This feeling was accompanied with a good deal of Pride and some conceit; and that amongst mere Medical students, he would walk & talk as one of the Gods might be supposed to do, when mingling with mortals.“
Poetic Purpose/Literary Devices
To a Friend who sent me some Roses, To Autumn,To Charles Cowden Clarke,To G. A. W., To George Felton Mathew, To Hope To Kosciusko, To My Brother George, To My Brother George, To My Brothers, To one who has been long in city pent, To Some Ladies, When I have fears that I may cease to be, Woman! when I behold thee flippant, vain, Written on the day that Mr. Leigh Hunt left Prison, Addressed to Haydon, Addressed to the Same Asleep!, O sleep a little while, white pearl!, Bright star! would I were steadfast as thou art, Calidore: A Fragment Dedication., To Leigh Hunt,
Esq. Endymion: Book I Book II Book III Book IV, Eve of St. Agnes, The Fancy Happy is England!, I could be content, How many bards gild the lapses of time!, Hyperion: A Fragment: Book I Book II Book IIII, Stood tip-toe upon a little hill Imitation of Spenser, In a drear-nighted December, Isabella; or, The Pot of Basil Keen, fitful gusts are whisp’ring here and there, La Belle Dame Sans Merci, Lamia: Part I Part II, Lines on the Mermaid Tavern, O Solitude! if I must with thee dwell, Ode, Ode on a Grecian Urn, Ode on Melancholy, Ode to a Nightingale, Ode to Psyche, On Fame I II, On first looking into Chapman’s Homer, On leaving some Friends at an early Hour, On receiving a curious
Shell, On the Grasshopper and Cricket Robin Hood, Sleep and Poetry, Specimen of an Induction to a Poem, The Human Seasons, To * * * * , To * * * * * *
Emotional pain and tragedy significantly altered the direction of Keats' life at a young age.
Born in Moorgate, London on October 31st, 1791
Keats' father passed away in April of 1804 when Keats was 8
Financial troubles and Tuberculosis
The books "that were his constantly recurrent sources of attraction were Tooke's `Pantheon,' Lamprière's `Classical Dictionary,' which he appeared to learn, and Spence's `Polymetis.' This was the store whence he acquired his intimacy with the Greek mythology." - Mr. Clarke
Excerpt from "In Imitation of Spenser"
NOW Morning from her orient chamber came,
And her first footsteps touch’d a verdant hill;
Crowning its lawny crest with amber flame,
Silv’ring the untainted gushes of its rill;
Which, pure from mossy beds, did down distill, 5
And after parting beds of simple flowers,
By many streams a little lake did fill,
Which round its marge reflected woven bowers,
And, in its middle space, a sky that never lowers.
Becoming A Poet
Oldest of four children
Attended John Clarke's Enfield School
Father worked in the stables
In 1817, Leigh Hunt introduced Keats to a circle of literary men, including Percy Byssh Shelley and William Wordsworth
Hunt helped Keats gain recognition and introduced him to the public as a figure of a "new school of poetry"
- Leigh Hunt
"The impression made upon me by the exuberant specimens of genuine though young poetry that were laid before me, and the promise of which was seconded by the fine fervid countenance of the writer. We became intimate on the spot, and I found the young poet's heart as warm as his imagination."
Hush, hush! tread softly! hush, hush my dear!
All the house is asleep, but we know very well
That the jealous, the jealous old bald-pate may hear.
Tho' you've padded his night-cap -- O sweet Isabel!
Tho' your feet are more light than a Fairy's feet,
Who dances on bubbles where brooklets meet,--
Hush, hush! soft tiptoe! hush, hush my dear!
For less than a nothing the jealous can hear.
No leaf doth tremble, no ripple is there
On the river, -- all's still, and the night's sleepy eye
Closes up, and forgets all its Lethean care,
Charm'd to death by the drone of the humming May-fly;
And the Moon, whether prudish or complaisant,
Hath fled to her bower, well knowing I want
No light in the dusk, no torch in the gloom,
But my Isabel's eyes, and her lips pulp'd with bloom.
Lift the latch! ah gently! ah tenderly -- sweet!
We are dead if that latchet gives one little chink!
Well done -- now those lips, and a flowery seat --
The old man may sleep, and the planets may wink;
The shut rose shall dream of our loves, and awake
Full blown, and such warmth for the morning's take;
The stock-dove shall hatch her soft brace and shall coo,
While I kiss to the melody, aching all through!
Keats' first love
They had a secret relationship
Inspiration for the original draft of "Bright Star" as well as many other of Keats' famous poems
Painting depicting a scene from Keats' poem "Isabella and the Pot of Basil"
Hush, Hush Tread Softly
“I have been astonished that men could die martyrs
for their religion--
I have shuddered at it,
I shudder no more.
I could be martyred for my religion.
Love is my religion
and I could die for that.
I could die for you.
My Creed is Love and you are its only tenet.”
- A letter to Fanny
Met in 1818, three years prior to Keats' death
Fanny moved into the other half of the Wentworth place, and they saw each other every day
Revised "Bright Star" for Fanny and gave it to her as a declaration of his love
Wrote each other countless notes and letters
Letters to Fanny
"Upon my soul I have loved you to the extreme. I wish you could know the Tenderness with which I continually brood over your different aspects of countenance, action and dress. I see you come down in the morning: I see you meet me at the Window - I see every thing over again eternally that I ever have seen... .If I am destined to be happy with you here - how short is the longest Life - I wish to believe in immortality - I wish to live with you for ever... Let me be but certain that you are mine heart and soul, and I could die more happily than I could otherwise live. "
Body of Work
Published 54 poems in three volumes of poetry
A thing of beauty is a joy for ever".
Written in rhyming couplets in iambic pentameter (heroic couplets)
Based on the Greek myth of Endymion, the sheperd beloved by the moon goddess Selene
Ignored the advice of Shelley to wait until he had a larger body of work before publishing
"Imperturbable driveling idiocy"
Miltonic poem about the fall of the Titans
Structured in Miltonic verse
“Deep in the shady sadness of a vale / Far sunken from the healthy breath of morn, / Far from the fiery noon, and eve’s one star, / Sat grayhaired Saturn, quiet as a stone.”
The Ode on Indolence, Ode to Psyche, Ode to the Nightingale, Ode on a Grecian Urn, Ode to Melancholy, To Autumn
All written in 1818; considered Keats’s best works
Overarching theme of all odes is the anguish of mortality and the inevitable changes and endings that occur. Often contrasted with the permanence art
Awe of nature
Emphasis on emotions
Importance of imagination
Embraced political and social revolutions
Keats believed in overcoming suffering through loving the world's beauty and embracing poetry and art to bring meaning to life
Keats coined the term "negative capability" to describe his beliefs about experiencing art
"The concept of Negative Capability is the ability to contemplate the world without the desire to try and reconcile contradictory aspects or fit it into closed and rational systems."
Combines different senses into one image that Keats attributes to be the traits of one sense to another
Ode to Nightingale “But here, here is not light, save what from heaven is with the breeze blown” combines sight (light) with touch/movement (breezes blown)
1. a doctrine that the principles of beauty are basic to other and especially moral principles
"Of all the poets in his time, Keats is one of the most inevitably associated with the love of beauty in the ordinary sense of the term. He was the most passionate lover of the world as the carrier of beautiful images and of the many imaginative associations of an object or word with whatever might give it a heightened emotional appeal.”
"Here Lies One Whose Name was Writ in Water"
Brown stated, “one night, at eleven o’clock, he came into the house in a state that looked like fierce intoxication. Such a state in him, I knew, was impossible.” Brown helped the feverish Keats to bed, “and I heardhim say,—`That is blood from my mouth. ... Bring me the candle Brown; and let me see this blood.’ After regarding it stead-fastly, he looked up in my face, with a calmness of countenance that I can never forget, and said,—`I know the colour of that blood;—it is arterial blood;—I cannot be deceived in that colour;—that drop of blood is my death warrant;—and I must die.’”
A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.
Therefore, on every morrow, are we wreathing
A flowery band to bind us to the earth,
Spite of despondence, of the inhuman dearth
Of noble natures, of the gloomy days,
Of all the unhealthy and o’er-darken’d ways
Made for our searching: yes, in spite of all,
Some shape of beauty moves away the pall
From our dark spirits…
Ode on Melancholy
NO, no! go not to
, neither twist
, tight-rooted, for its poisonous wine;
Nor suffer thy pale forehead to be kist
ruby grape of Proserpine
Make not your rosary of yew-berries, 5
Nor let the
, nor the
, nor the
A partner in your sorrow's mysteries;
For shade to shade will come too drowsily,
And drown the wakeful anguish of the soul. 10
But when the melancholy fit shall fall
Sudden from heaven
like a weeping cloud
And hides the
thy sorrow on a morning rose, 15
Or on the rainbow of the salt sand-wave,
Or on the wealth of globèd peonies;
Or if thy mistress some rich anger shows,
Emprison her soft hand, and let her rave,
deep, deep upon her peerless eyes. 20
She dwells with Beauty—Beauty that must die;
And Joy, whose hand is ever at his lips
Bidding adieu; and
Turning to poison while the bee-mouth sips:
Ay, in the very temple of Delight 25
Veil'd Melancholy has her sovran shrine,
Though seen of none save him whose strenuous tongue
Can burst Joy's grape against his
His soul shall taste the sadness of her might,
And be among her cloudy trophies hung.
When I have fears that I may cease to be
WHEN I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has
my teeming brain,
Before high pil`d books, in charact'ry,
Hold like rich
When I behold, upon the night's starr'd face, 5
Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
And feel that I may never live to trace
Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance;
And when I feel, fair creature of an hour!
That I shall never look upon thee more, 10
Never have relish in the faery power
Of unreflecting love;—then on the shore
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think,
Till Love and Fame to nothingness do sink