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1. Keats and other Romantic poets

Of all the romantic poets, KEATS was the pure poet. He was not only the last but the most perfect of the Romanticists. He was devoted to poetry and had no other interest. Unlike WORDSWORTH who was interested in reforming poetry and upholding the moral law; and unlike BYRON who made his poetry a vehicle of his strongly egoistical nature and political discontents of the time; unlike COLERIDGE who was a metaphysician, and SCOTT who relished in story telling, KEATS did not take much notice of the social, political and literary turmoil. He devoted himself entirely to the worship of beauty and writing poetry as it suited his temperament. He was, about all things, a poet, and nothing else. His nature was entirely and essentially poetical and the whole of his vital energy went into art.

2. Keats financial circumstances and his ambition for poetry

Unlike, BYRON who was a lord and SHELLEY who belonged to an aristocratic family, KEATS came of a poor family and at an early age he had to work as a doctor's assistant. But his medical studies did not stand in the way of his profession for writing poetry, which was increased by his reading of Spensers 'The Faerie Queen' which revealed to him the vast world of poetry. He also became interested in the beauty of nature, His first volume of poems appeared in 1817 and his first long poem "Endymion " in 1818, which opened with the following memorable lines

"A thing of beauty is a joy forever; Its loveliness increases, it will never, Pass into nothingness, but still will keep, A bower quiet for us; and sleep Full of sweet dreams, and healthy, and quiet breathing."

3. Keats under the cloud

This poem was severely criticized by contemporary critics, which must have shocked KEATS. Besides this, a number of other calamities engulfed him. He had lost his father when he was only nine, his mother and brother died of

Tuberculosis, and he himself was suffering from this deadly disease. All these misfortunes were intensified by his failure n love for FANNY BROWNE whom KEATS loved passionately. But he remained undaunted and under the shadow of death, KEATS brought out his last volume of poems in 1820.The poems of 1820 are KEATS' enduring monuments.

4. Keats and his masterpieces

In 'Isabella' KEATS made an attempt to turn a tragic love story of Isabella and Lorenzo, who was murdered by Isabella's brothers, into a thing of beauty by means of fine narrative skill and beautiful phraseology. In 'Lamia' KEATS narrated the story of a beautiful enchantress, who turns from a serpent into a glorious woman and fills every human sense with delight, until as a result of the foolish philosophy of old Apollonius, she vanishes forever from her lover's sight. 'The Eve of St. Agnes' which is the most perfect of Keats medieval poems, is surpassingly beautiful in descriptions. 'Hyperion' which is a magnificent piece deals with the overthrow of the Titans by the young sun-god Apollo. 'La Belle Dame sans Merci which captures the spirit of the Middle Ages has a haunting melody. Though small, it is the most perfect work of art.

5. Keats and his odes

Of the odes, those 'To a Nightingale' 'On a Grecian Urn' and 'To Autumn' stand out above the rest and are among the masterpieces of poetic art. In Ode to a Nightingale' we find a love of sensuous beauty and a touch of pessimism. In 'Ode on a Grecian Urn' we see KEATS' love for Greek mythology and art. It is this Ode which ends with the following most famous lines in the whole of KEATS' poetry.

"Beauty is truth, and truth beauty - that is all Ye know on earth, and ail ye need to know."
Though the 'Ode to Autumn' in which KEATS has glorified nature, is a poem which for richness and colour has never been surpassed.

6. Keats and his mature and philosophical thoughts

Though KEATS died young, when he had attained barely the age of twenty five, and had only a few years in which he could effectively write poetry, his

achievement in the field of poetry is so great, that we wonder what he might have accomplished if he had lived longer. For a long time, his poetry was considered merely a sensuous having no depth of thought. But afterwards, critics reinterpreted his poems and now it has been discovered that his poetry is based on mature thinking. He was not an escapist but he faced life bravely and came to the conclusion that sufferings play an important part in the development of human personality. As a worshipper of beauty, though his first approach was physical, his attitude suddenly became philosophical and he discovered that there is beauty in everything and that Beauty and Truth are one as a poet, he had very high ideals before him. He wanted to become the poet of the human heart. For him, the proper role of poetry is

"To be a friend to soothe the cares and lift the thoughts of men."
and the real poet is that

"To whom the realities of the world are misery and will not let him rest." Conclusion:
To conclude, KEATS sincerely and persistently lived up to these high ideals. Taking into account all these factors and the very short span of life that was given to him by Providence; it is no exaggeration to say that of all the English poets, he comes nearest to SHAKESPEARE. As TENNYSON says:

"There is something of the innermost soul of poetry in almost everything he wrote."