Perhaps more interesting than his poetry are Keats’ letters. They reveal his thoughts on poetry far more than his poetry does, and reveal the shifting of Romantic thought as clearly as Wordsworth’s Preface revealed the beginning of it.
Throughout the course, we’ve been able to spot why these artists are creating their art. For Wordsworth it was for self-reflection and relation to nature. For Byron, it was self-expression and justification. For most of the Romantic poets, their poetry was a way for them to understand the self and the world. For Keats, however, art becomes a way to escape the self to understand the world.
Keats’ poetry is nearly entirely devoid of the self. Even when it does include the “I” like in the Odes, it is the enemy. In the Odes, the poet is seeking to escape the “I” and finds himself thrown back into it when his dreams or imaginings are, like spells, broken by reality. Keats, surrounded by death in life, sought to break free of the mortal “I” and launch into the immortal other.