Keats, John. (1795 - 1821).
L i f e
- fell in love with Fanny Brawne x but: his dedication to poetry, poverty, and growing illness made marriage impossible and love a torment
- as an apothecary-surgeon foreboded his early death, died of TBC when not yet 26
W o r k
- associated with the ‘Cockney School’
- produced poetry of a slow-paced, gracious movement, with characteristically sensuous descriptions
- delights at the sheer existence of things outside himself: capable to identify with external objects, animate or inanimate
- preoccupied with irreconcilable opposites: melancholy in delight, pleasure in pain, and love as an approximation to death
- defines ‘Negative Capability’ = ‘when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason’
“On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer” (1816):
- an enthusiastic sonnet on George Chapman’s translation of The Iliad
“Sleep and Poetry” (1816):
- a layout of his programme deliberately modelled on the careers of the greatest poets
Endymion: A Poetic Romance (1818):
- a profuse allegory of a mortal’s quest for an ideal feminine counterpart and a flawless happiness beyond earthly possibilities
- an epic poem modelled on J. Milton’s Paradise Lost (1667)
- achieved the Miltonic manner > abandoned the poem as a threat to his individuality and decided to write independently
Lamia, Isabella, The Eve of St Agnes, and Other Poems (1820):
> “Lamia” (1819):
- a narrative poem contrasting the beautiful female half-serpent Lamia x an aged, rational philosopher Apollonius
- juxtaposes illusion x reality, the ideal x the actual, feeling x thought
> “Isabella” (1818):
- a narrative poem drawing on Boccaccio's story of tragic lovers
> “The Eve of St Agnes” (1819):
- a narrative poem in a medieval setting, based on superstition
- contrasts cold x warmth, dark x light, hardness x softness, noise x stillness, cruelty x love
> “La Belle Dame sans Merci” (1819):
- a ballad on the idea of fairy enthralment
The Fall of Hyperion (1856, posthumously):
- reworks the epic Hyperion into a dream vision
- retells the story of the resistance of the last of the Titans against the coming new order of the Gods
- the prefatory vision defines the influence of suffering on the imagination of a poet: the visionary requires to experience pain
(Sketch: Charles Brown. 1819. Source: Wikimedia Commons).
AuthorJohn Keats. (1795 - 1821). British.
WorkPoet. Author of "Ode on a Grecian Urn".
Abrams, Meyer Howard, ed. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. New York: W. W. Norton, 1993.
Barnard, Robert. Stručné dějiny anglické literatury. Praha: Brána, 1997.
Baugh, Albert C. ed. A Literary History of England. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1967.
Coote, Stephen. The Penguin Short History of English Literature. London: Penguin, 1993.
Sampson, George. The Concise Cambridge History of English Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1946.
Sanders, Andrew. The Short Oxford History of English Literature. New York: Clarendon Press, 1994.
All of them from 1819.
"Ode on a Grecian Urn"
"Ode on Indolence"
"Ode on Melancholy"
"Ode to a Nightingale"
"Ode to Autumn"
"Ode to Psyche"
"O for ten years, that I may overwhelm / Myself in poesy; so I may do the deed / That my own soul has to itself decreed."
From "Sleep and Poetry" (1816).