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John Keats


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Title: John Keats

John Keats
  • Mortality, Love and Beauty

"Here lies one whose name was writ in water."
  • Introduction
  • The Eve of St. Agnes
  • Keats 1819 Odes
  • Next Week

John Keats (1795-1821) His Life
  • 1804 -- father fell off a horse and cracked his
    skull when Keats was 8
  • 1810 -- his mother died of tuberculosis when he
    was 14
  • Started out as a surgeon, but chose then to write
  • Struggle with money problems all his adult years
    worried about his brothers health.
  • 1819 his brother Tom died of TB.
  • 1820 symptoms of TB
  • 1821 -- Died of TB at the age of 25.

Keats and His Contemporaries
  • introduced to Percy Shelly and William
    Wordsworth by Leigh Hunt
  • supported by his friend Charles Brown, falling
    in love with Fanny Brawne.
  • Negative influences his declining health and
    predominantly negative reviews (with the
    exception of Shelleys)

Mortality, Art and Love
  • The Romantics Eternity (3617)
  • Nightingale
  • Grecian Urn
  • Bright Star
  • -- 442 conflicts between a fashion designer and
    two poets -- 051 Nightingale
  • -- 3030 Negative Capability A poem needs
    understanding through the senses.
  • -- 5347 Nightingale
  • (0122 La Belle Dame Sans Merci)
  • -- 014022,216 --Let's pretend I will return in

Keats Letters
  • 3030 A Poet is the most unpoetical of any thing
    in existence because he has no Identity - he is
    continually in for - and filling some other Body
    - The Sun, the Moon, the Sea and Men and Women
    who are creatures of impulse are poetical and
    have about them an unchangeable attribute - the
    poet has none no identity - he is certainly the
    most unpoetical of all God's Creatures.
  • 10054 I almost wish we were butterflies and
    liv'd but three summer daysthree such days with
    you I could fill with more delight than fifty
    common years could ever contain.

The Eve of St. Agnes
  • What is the story about?
  • How is it different from
  • Romeo and Juliet?
  • 2. What function does the
  • St. Agnes custom play?
  • And Madelines dream?
  • 3. How is the story structured?
  • What are the narrative frames?
  • 4. Is Porphyro a voyeur or a lover?

Structure and Plot
  • Frame (1-5) Beadsman, cold and stormy weather
    and sounds of festivities.
  • 6-8 Madeline, who is oblivious to the
    festivities, waits for the night.
  • 9-10 Porphyro, wanting to see Madeline, enters
    the castle.
  • 11-20 meets Angela, who warns him off and tells
    him the legend P. asks Angela to help him find
  • 21-27 Madeline enters, prays, and undresses and
    goes to sleep, the moon shining on her.

Structure and Plot
  • 28-33 Porphyro sneaks out of closet, prepares a
    table of foods, and wakes M up, first with words
    and then with music.
  • 34 -36 Madeline wakes up, realizes that its no
    dream, and thinks he's a traitor
  • 38-39 --P wants her to be his bride and to run
    away with him.
  • 40-42 They escape while everyone is still asleep.
    The Beadsman dies.

Keats 1819 Odes
  • Theme human mortality and
  • Sentiments (melancholy, indolence) artistic
  • Ode to Psyche be a singer of Psyche
  • Ode to a Nightingale dynamic art
  • Ode on a Grecian Urn plastic art
  • Ode on Melancholy
  • Ode on Indolence
  • To Autumn

Keats 1819 Odes (2)
  • Ode as a poetic form (see note)
  • process of empathy (Giving up on drugs or wine,
    emphasis on five senses, with Personification,
    Direct address and apostrophe) (Using apostrophe
    to speak to the object in order to enter its
    realm--or bring it nearer).
  • disappearance of the speaker in To Autumn.

John Keats in 1819, painted by his friend Joseph
Ode to a Nightingale
  • Keats, reveling in the fact that the bird sings
    so happily in the forest, wants to fly away
    with it on the wings of poetry. But he cannot
    make it, being reminded of his mortal self.
  • Where are the turning points in the poem?
  • Analyze Keats use of paradoxes.
  • What does the nightingale represent? In what
    ways is it different from Shelleys sky lark?

Ode on a Grecian Urn
  • How is the urn represented, with the patterns on
    its two sides?
  • How is the speaker related to it?
  • The process question? empathy ? confirmation ?
    differentiation between the human and the

Ode on Melancholy
  1. How is Melancholy defined? What is she associated
    with, and not associated with?
  2. Why does Melancholy have her shrine in the temple
    of Delight?

The Soul of the Rose by John William Waterhouse
Ode on Indolence
  • Why does the three figures pass by three times?
  • How does the speaker describe his indolence?

Frank SkipworthIndolence, Oil on canvas, 1884
  • -- lengthy, serious in subject matter, elevated
    in its diction and style, and often elaborate in
    its stanzaic structure.
  • -- two classical prototypes
  • Greek or Pindaric Ode irregular stanza
    (Meditative Odes by the Romantics)
  • and Roman or Horatian Ode uniform stanza (e.g.
    To Autumn) (source Meditative Romantic Ode
    from Keats Syllabus)

Meditative Romantic Ode
  • combine the stanzaic complexity of the irregular
    ode with the personal meditation of the Horatian
    ode, usually dropping the emotional restraint of
    the Horatian tradition.
  • subject matter
  • the description of a particularized outer natural
  • an extended meditation, which the scene
    stimulates, over a private problem or a universal
    situation or both
  • the occurrence of an insight or vision, a
    resolution or decision, which signals a return to
    the scene originally described, but with a new

(source Meditative Romantic Ode from Keats
Next Week
  • Felicia Hemans The Switzers Wife, "Cabianca,"
    and Letitia Elizabeth Landon Revenge -- Quiz
    (and Keats poems)
  • Two Group Reports
  • (Elizabeth Barret Browning probably not)
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