John Keats

  • Trained as an apothecary
  • Died very young after rapid decrease in health
  • Not received very positively (harshly criticized by Wordsworth)

Grief in Odes


  • Younger brother, Tom, dies of consumption
  • Next year, writes significant amount of poetry, including Odes
  • At times in poetry, romanticizes death and yearns for relief
  • Ode on Melancholy
    • wooing melancholy
    • “meditation on depression”
    • melancholy presented as a female figure
  • Odes may be a culmination of his grief surrounding his own deterioration and Tom’s
  • Uses a lot of sleeping imagery to describe death – idealization
  • Nature almost like a vehicle for death
    • nature brings him into second form of life
    • Nature remains long after and before he is gone
    • Contradicts tradition of nature as healing – brings him into death and idealizes nature’s role in his own death and gives him sense of autonomy
  • How is he separate from other poets?
  • Associates nature with mortality – drives him to contemplate his own mortality
  • Interesting that he chooses to focus on Autumn in Ode to Autumn
    • entirely sensational – not always an idea or philosophy behind it
    • not trying to attribute philosophical meaning to nature
    • expression of experience through senses
  • This may be more beneficial for him because he does not experience the loss and complication of other poets like Wordsworth
    • Wordsworth opposed the idea of dissection, hoping to gain the experiences back
    • Some critics say Keats would have stopped writing poetry and would have become a philosopher


  • Emotions Recollected in Tranquility would mean little to him – would turn it to mean recapturing the essence of the moment
  • Wordsworth saw Keats’ vision as Paganism – offended
  • Keats’ work may have been a catalyst for modern poetry movement


  • what poetry should be – why should art be imitative?

Ode on a Grecian Urn

  • immortality of the image – frozen in time
  • artist has captured image at point of almost being fulfilled
    • most intense moment – once it has happened, it is done and gone
  • imagination is the strongest element of the scene


  • expresses to Mr. Bailey his confusion and frustration with women
  • To Richard Woodhouse:
    • poet as a vessel and active participant in emotions of his surrounding
    • eliminated the “I” and individuality
    • removes the nature of identity from the author
    • folklore used to be considered common cultural property
    • resisting the ego that may come with his position as a poet
  • Letters should be considered in conjunction with his poetry because they provide insight into his work
  • Interesting that he separates his philosophy and his poetry
  • Compares Jesus and Socrates – people have taken their words and put their own spins and narrowing ideas on them
  • Argues for elimination of identity and destruction of establishment

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