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    Basics On Keats Essay (194 words)

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    John Keats, arguably the most talented and delightful writer of his time. His harrowingly beautiful writing often encompassed aspects of humanity and nature and what it means to be human. It is often argued that if he did not meet his untimely demise from a young age, he would have rivaled that of Shakespeare with graceful ease. His work helped to conceptualize romanticism to its base parts, helping to shape its course through history. Furthermore, many of his poems took on a melancholy atmosphere and often nodded to a passing of time, continuing to shape what we know about this brilliant poet. By looking at his life, we can see the resemblance of how his personal life is interconnected with his poetry and how he turned into a legendary poet.

    John Keats received little formal education within his life, with his father being a stable manager. Within the little schooling he had, John Keats was noted as non-literary by his teachers up until 1809 when “he began reading voraciously,” according to Grahm Goulder Hough from Britannica. However, at his mother’s death, he went under the care of Richard Abbey and became an apprentice surgeon in 1811 until 1814 where he broke it off to live in London. Keats proceeded to work as a Junior House Surgeon at Guy’s and St. Thomas’ hospitals until completely devoting his life to the art of poetry in 1917. Charles Cowden Clarke helped to introduce John Keats to a myriad of both old and contemporary poets, whose influence was often seen greatly within his first published book released in 1817 called Poems.

    One of the most interesting poems within the collection that Hough pointed out, was “Sleep And Poetry,” where it contains a “prophetic view of Keat’s poetical progress.” It tells of him delving deep into the world of natural beauty within poetry, but will eventually encounter the agony and strife of human hearts.” 1818 was a large turning point for the worst within John Keats’s life, with a large amount of his work being heavily criticized. Additionally, when he came back from a summer walking tour, he began experiencing the first signs of tuberculosis. Furthermore, his brother soon passed away after meeting Fanny Brawne, who played a decisive and effective role within Keats’s personal development. But due to his sickness, their relationship wouldn’t run its normal course despite being engaged to her.

    In 1819, the vast amount of his legendary poetry was written and published, slowly gaining his reputation as his condition got worse. This is where such legendary poems such as “Ode To A Nightingale’, “To Autumn”, and the incomplete Hyperion. Hyperion was seen by many to be John Keats’s last attempt to resolve the “conflict between absolute value and mortal decay,” which was a prominent theme within his poetry. Within his final years, he was ordered by a doctor to go South in the hopes it may help his health. But, within early winter in Rome, he relapsed according to Hough. Despite his early deaths, his poetry soon took a storm within the Victorian age. Edward Moxen, author of Life, letters, and literary remains, of John Keats, once wrote “Our impressions of Keats can only be that of a noble nature preserving testing its powers, of a manly heart bravely surmounting its first hard experience, and of imagination ready to inundate the world, yet learning to flow within regulated channels, and abating its violence without lessening its strength,” a mere two decades after his passing.

    To Autumn

    In comparison to many of Keats’s poems, “To Autumn” seems remarkably simpler in regards to theme and dynamic, or at least at the surface level. Rather, the poem tells of a simple narrative: Autumn’s pinnacle of grace, the fall from grace, and her content acceptance of both the glorious past and the slow future. The first stanza within the poem seems to be a celebration of Autumn, peacefully describing her. Keats would describe the season at its very peak with the use of the fine imagery: “And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core.” The rest of the stanza speaks of autumn as if it was at its very peak before the clenches of winter tear it down. This symbolism is further expanded upon within the second stanza, in the line; “Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.” The entire poem has a soft tone with relatively short and snippy words, causing “oozings” to stand out entirely. It’s as if Autumn’s time left is helplessly and slowly being drained from it. In addition, Keats’ use of the word “hook” within this stanza helps to elaborate upon this idea of Autumn helplessness and it’s an attempt to cling onto the very last hours of daylight.

    Within the final stanza, we can see this had been Keats’s beautiful perception of the season. Furthermore, we can also note Keats’s use of apostrophe as he begins personifying Autumn: “Where are the songs of spring? Ay, where are they?/ Think not of them, thou hast thy music too.” As the final stanza unfolds and these stands are revealed, we can begin to imagine Autumn as someone who does not wish to fall into the cold embrace of winter and is often envious of her sister spring. Yet, Keats seems to reassure her that she will always be important and that she uniquely embodies the beauty of peacefulness. This is seen in the vivid imagery of Autumn’s music: “The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft,” alongside the rest of the stanza. Furthermore, there is a unique parallel with Keats’ own life after reaching his peak in terms of his poetic achievement as he slowly faded away into the background until his untimely death. Perhaps, the greater theme of this poem is to move forward with pride and accept the passage of time for what it is.

    According to Shrestha she reveled in the idea that Keats’ peaceful imagery meant that Autumn was a season to rejoice, just as old age should be too. With this, I would agree John Keats was trying to orchestrate a point that the fall of grace from your highest point in life can still be graceful as long as you accept the past as what it was. This is because the pinnacle of Autumn can be seen as the last “hurrah” of life before the cold touch of winter takes you. However, throughout her critical review about John Keats’s “To Autumn”, she notes that the poem “expresses the essence of the season, but it draws no lesson, no overt comparison with human life.

    Keats was being neither allegorical, nor Wordsworthian,” which seems completely non-indigenous to the rest of his works. His other poems, such as the famed “Ode To A Nightingale” or “Ode To a Grecian Urn”, are filled with such intense amounts of raw emotion and deep symbolic meaning regarding various aspects of humanity and life. To have “To Autumn” rely solely upon observation and not delve into anything further seems uncharacteristic of John Keats. Furthermore, she thought that the poem didn’t overtly compare with life and would seem to be in direct opposition with what she initially wrote: “The theme of ripeness is complemented by the theme of death… figure of autumn of the second stanza is replaced by concrete images of life.” However, I will agree that the entirety of the poem seems to be much simpler on the surface in contrast to his other work, but perhaps with a distinct meaning hidden between its layers.

    Ode On Melancholy

    “Ode To Melancholy” evokes a poetic remembrance of the phrase; “Happiness without sadness has no meaning.” The ode seems to address how one must not fall into the blight that is one’s sadness and to overwhelm one’s senses to the beauty of the world, but not completely disregards melancholy as it’s linked deeply with its counterpart happiness. Within the first stanza, Keats begins this famed poem with the allusion: “No, no, go not to Lethe, neither twist.” Once again, we see Greek mythology playing a potent part of his poetry, with lethe meaning “oblivion,” and being a river within Hades, with the newly dead drinking from the river to wash away their memories according to the Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. This thematic approach of asking the reader to refrain from diving into one’s sadness is a stagnant theme within the first stanza, using an even more brilliant allusion: “Nor suffer thy pale forehead to be kiss’d / By nightshade, ruby grape of Proserpine.” With Nightshade being able to paralyze nerve endings in sufficient doses (The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica), and Prosperine being the early greek goddess of wine, it can be assumed that Keats is urging the reader to refrain from taking such drastic means to an end.

    Instead, he offers an enlightening alternative within the following stanza, suggesting that when the “melancholy fit shall fall,” that the reader instead “glut thy sorrow on a morning rose, / Or on the rainbow of the salt sand-wave.” This breathtaking imagery helps to encapsulate the very idea that the beauty of nature can heal and create an epiphany of joy within the viewer that combats sadness. This very idea enshrouds the second stanza, describing the ethereal, soul healing beauty of nature or even your loved ones. Yet, in beauty, joy, pleasure, and all good things within life, melancholy shall still exist, because “in the very temple of Delight… Melancholy has her sovran shrine.” Keats’ personification of these two emotions foils amongst each other, with his previous descriptions becoming almost de facto personalities amongst the two, where melancholy hides slyly within delights shadow. When one embraces joy and beauty, “His soul shalt taste the sadness of her might.” Keats argues that people should embrace melancholy by attesting to the truth that the greatest beauty is temporary and that they are inseparable counterparts. Delight amplifies melancholy, and without melancholy delight would be worthless. A rose would not be as beautiful if it didn’t die.

    Upon reading Ardhendu De’s critical reflection regarding John Keats “Ode On Melancholy,” I had anticipated my analysis to be off the mark in comparison. Yet, this worry subsided as many of the same breathtaking points were made throughout his critical analysis. Furthermore, Ardhendu De’s first paragraph acts as a unique exposition by expressing that “Ode On Melancholy” is his only poem that “approximates in thought and style to the maturity of his final poem the Fall Of Hyperion.” Upon hearing this line, I realized that he couldn’t be any more true. A consistent theme throughout John Keats’ works is escaping the pain of humanity, such as flying away into the elusive world of the nightingale. Ardhendu points out that the first line within the Ode, “No, no, no, go not to Lethe, neither twist,” rivals deeply with “Now more than ever seems it rich to die,“ within “Ode To A Nightingale” in thought and morality. Throughout the rest of his critical analysis, he delved into the various allusions and rhetoric, ending with the moral sentiment: “ ‘Ode On Melancholy’ is a serene acceptance of the whole of life, its pathos and its piety,“ which is a beautiful yet concise way to approximate the endearing theme of the poem.

    When I have fears that I may cease to be

    “When I Have Fears That I May Cease To Be” is arguably one of Keats’s most blunt poems, with his very ideas and morals laid on the forefront using rather simple rhetoric in comparison to his other work. But this doesn’t mean that it is any less vivid or beautiful. It shows his very quintessential fear that he will not live long enough to truly fulfill himself as a writer, and that his loved ones will eventually one day die. Yet, this is abruptly resolved towards the end of this Shakespearean sonnet. The first four lines heavily emphasize his thoughts of mortality, and that he may never peak in terms of his own writing. This is heavily shown in the metaphors “Before my pen has gleaned my teeming brain,” and “ Hold like rich garners the full ripened grain,” which gives a sense of some sort of harvest and that his mind is fertile with imagination. Furthermore, there is a great amount of alliteration in the keywords ‘glean’d,’ garners,’ and ‘grain,’ giving more importance to the metaphor of harvesting the imagination. In a paradoxical sense, Keats is both the field of wheat and the harvester, for his imagination is the source of his poetry. Yet, there is this deep underlying worry that he may be unable to do so properly before his untimely demise.

    Furthering this, Keats then looks towards nature as yet another stunning source for his own words, describing “night’s starred face,” as “Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance.” It acts as a metaphor, describing the starry sky of the night as an exalted, mysterious and larger than life version of love that he wishes to write about with his “magic hand of chance.” But, connecting this back to the title and opening line, it begins to show he may not have enough time to understand these “huge cloudy symbols” or to trace the stars. Then, he begins turning to love within the third stanza, describing his beloved as the ‘fair creature of an hour.’ With this in mind and words such as “when” and “before” being a staple within this poem, there creates a sense of urgency, that love is deeply entwined with mortality, of which Keats is afraid of.

    Yet, Keats also metaphorically tells of its ability to transform the world with it’s illusory “faery power.” Then this sonnet concludes rather suddenly with the words: “then on the shore / Of the wide world I stand alone, and think / Till love and fame to nothingness do sink.” The shore possibly acts as a threshold between two worlds: the world of humanity, and the world of human loneliness and insignificance, with Keats crossing this very threshold. There is this deep boding understanding and epiphany that John Keats has, where he accepts his humanly desire for love, and fame is unimportant when he is no longer living.

    Brian Richards further connects this poem to the circumstances regarding John Keats’s life and pointing out that “this sonnet stands out from others of its kind and those by its author because it paints a more nuanced portrait of death.” I fully agree, as even though many of his poems had a moral and philosophical connection with death, none went to the same extent. Furthermore, it seems to be more personal as Keats leaves his worries and fears in regards to morality fairly out in the open, for everyone to see. Brian Richards also importantly notes it is not just merely a “poem of a poet,” but rather a “more relatable and general poem about life and death.” And looking back at the poem, he couldn’t be more correct in this sentiment as the title and first line itself greatly helped to dictate the context, theme, and tone of the poem. Furthermore, he regards the final two lines as more nihilistic than existential, with the image that “Keats himself standing alone on the edge of the universe, trying to get perspective and reflect on these fears,” and connecting those lines with Shakespeare’s Sonnet 60. He then goes on addressing the various similarities within this poem to Shakespear’s sonnet, suggesting that the poem itself is possibly a large allusion.


    As John Keats once said, “Poetry should strike the reader as a working of his own highest thought, and appear almost as a remembrance.” But, when we think of John Keats, we reflectively think of a legendary poet that died too soon, a legendary poet that would have rivaled histories great poets, a legendary poet whose every line was breathtaking. But perhaps, that’s now what he would have wanted, as a person remembered for his poetry. Instead, he wanted his poetry to be a remembrance of him, as a human that was feverishly in love. Madly in love with poetry. Madly In love with greek mythology. Madly in love with Fanny Brown. Madly in love with life.

    This essay was written by a fellow student. You may use it as a guide or sample for writing your own paper, but remember to cite it correctly. Don’t submit it as your own as it will be considered plagiarism.

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