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A Thing of Beauty: the Poetry of John Keats

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Dr. Brenda Cornell. Dates 1795-1821 ... Luxuriant song. Works Cited. Abrams and others. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: A Thing of Beauty: the Poetry of John Keats


1
A Thing of Beauty the Poetry of John Keats
  • Prepared for English 2323
  • By
  • Dr. Brenda Cornell

2
Dates 1795-1821
  • Compared to the education, travels, and personal
    lives of Byron, Wordsworth, Coleridge, and
    Shelley, Keats experience was more limited and
    his education seemed more a matter of chance than
    plan. Although trained in medicine he gave up
    his studies and devoted all his energy to writing
    poetry.

3
Views on society, politics, and religion
  • Seems to have had no abstract, programmatic
    interest in such subjects. His literary world
    was very limited but not superficial.
  • Brief literary career characterized by a chosen
    intensity and concentration of enormous talent
    and energy.

4
Summation of Keats Career
  • According to Andre Maurois, biographer of Shelley
    and Byron, a great man. . .finds himself modeled
    by the function he has to perform. . .of making
    his life a work of art, at becoming what the
    world would have him be . . .and so acquires. .
    .in spite of himself and whatever may be his
    intrinsic worth, that. . .which makes him a fine
    model for the artist (qtd. in Heath 991).

5
Keats own admission of his role
  • At 25, fully aware of his impending death, he
    closed a letter to a friend, I can scarcely bid
    you good-bye even in a letter. I always made an
    awkard bow (qtd. In Heath 991). His poems and
    letters were the artistic transformation of the
    everyday into the extraordinary. Few poets have
    ever been so definite about the connection
    between life and art.

6
Keats Outline of his Literary Career
  • Indulgence in Luxury (youth) poet sees himself
    as a protected spectator becoming aware of the
    possibilities of a nobler life
  • Compares himself to Wordsworth if human life is
    a large mansion of many apartments, both poets
    have passed through the infant (thoughtless)
    chamber where they were intoxicated with the
    light and the atmosphere. . .saw nothing but
    pleasant wonders and thought of delaying there
    forever in delight (Heath 992). Poetry viewed
    as a means of self-exploration and fulfillment.

7
Last years of life and career
  • In 1816, Keats had hoped for 10 years to fulfill
    his poetic apprenticeship, but found that he
    had less than 3 years to write four to live.
    Poems show a rapidly fast-growing intensity of
    concern with subject, style, and purpose. Poems
    are a way of exploring and discovering.

8
Poems of this period
  • Characterized by an intensity and urgency to
    explore dreams, fantasy, reality (as in The Eve
    of St. Agnes)
  • At times seems to mock his own seriousness ex.
    Suggests that the destructive ferocity of a
    gentle robin eating a worm is a smaller version
    of the shark attacking its prey

9
Idea of negative capability throughout Keats
poetry
  • Even before he was aware of his deteriorating
    heath, Keats knew that he must choose between
    half-knowledge or none. He praised negative
    capability as the poets ability to exist in
    uncertainties, doubts, and mystery, without
    necessarily reaching for fact and reason, and
    using that experience as subject for poetry (ex.
    When I Have Fears).

10
Appreciation was delayed
  • Contemporaries were unsympathetic and unimpressed
    by his poems
  • A century later, William Butler Yeats would
    write
  • I see a school boy when I think of him
  • With face and nose pressed to a sweetshop window
  • For certainly he sank into his grave
  • His senses and his heart unsatisfied
  • And madebeing poor, ailing, and ignorant,
  • Shut out from all the luxury of the world,
  • The coarse bred son of livery stable keeper
  • Luxuriant song.

11
Works Cited
  • Abrams and others. The Norton Anthology of
    English Literature. Volume II. 7th edition.
    NY Norton, 2000 823-828.
  • Heath, William. Major British Poets of the
    Romantic Period. NY Macmillan, 1973 991-998.
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