John Keats (1795-1821)
John Keats, the poet of the second generation of the Romantic Age learned much of his English poetry before reaching the age of 15. At the age of 20 he qualified at Guy’s Hospital as an apothecary-surgeon, but decided to be a poet.
Keats’s reputation rose at his death and has not fallen. His notable trails in the sonnet form helped him devise the stanzas used in his Odes. In the couplets of Endymion and the blank-verse of the unfinished Hyperion, his fertile mind tends to run on: his imagination responded impetuously to sensuous beauty, in women, in nature or in art, and in verse and language themselves. Stanza-form controlled his sentences and concern treated his thought, and his slate unstanzaic poems, lamia and the Fall of Hyperion.
Sleep and Poetry is a title which points to Keats’s lasting concern about the morality of imagination, and the complex relationships between art and experience. In the Fall of Hyperion, he is told that “the poet and the dreamer are distinct, /Diverse, sheer opposite, antipodes.
Between April and September 1819 Keats wrote six Odes. In his Odes to the Nightingale, the Grecian Urn and Autumn, Keats has much of the grandeur of Wordsworth’s “Immorality Ode’, the evocativeness of Coleridge’s ‘Dejection Ode’ and the intensity of Shelley’s apostrophe to the West Wind. His Odes dramatize the struggle between longing and thinking. His major Odes are superbly organized.
Keats might have equalled Wordsworth in magnitude as he did in quality. Tennyson thought Keats the greatest 19th-century poet, and T.S Eliot, no friend of the personal cult in poetry, judges Keats’s letters ‘certainly the most notable and most important ever written by any English poet’.
Those who wait they get. (Own Creation)