JOHN KEATS 1795- 1821
His life • John Keats’s father was head stableman at a London livery stable; he married his employers daughter and inherited the business. Mrs. Keats, by all reports, was a strongly sensuous woman and a rather casual but affectionate mother to her five children-John (the first born), his three brothers and a sister. Keats was sent to the Reverend John Clarkes private school at Enfield, where he was a noisy, high-spirited boy; despite his small
stature. He distinguished himself in sky-larking and fistfights. Here he had the good fortune to have as a teacher Charles Cowden Clarke, son of the headmaster, who later became a writer and editor; he encouraged Keats’s passion for reading. When Keats was eight his father was killed by a Fall from a horse, and when he was fourteen his mother died of tuberculosis. Although the livery stable had prospered, and $8,000 had been left in trust to the children by Keats’s grandmother, the estate remained tied up in the law courts for all
Keats’s lifetime. The children’s guardian, Richard Abbey, was an unimaginative and practical-minded businessman; he took Keats out of school at the age of fifteen and bound him apprentice to Thomas Hammond, asurgeon apothecary at Edmonton. In Keats carried on his medical studies at Guys Hospital, London, and the next year qualified to practice as an apothecary-surgeon—but almost immediately, over his guardians protests, he abandoned medicine for poetry.
His poetry 1817: poems, Keats's first book. 1818: Endymion: A poetic Romance. 1819: Keats's annus mirabilis, in which he writes almost all his greatest poems. 1820: Publishes the volume Lamia, Isabella, The Eve of St. Agnes, and other poems. John Keats loved beauty and rest. A friend in 1813 gave him Spenser’s Faerie Queene to read, and this awoke his poetic powers. He studied the poets and he studied nature too.
He could write lines in Wordsworth’s manner but with more music, such lines as `A little noiseless noise among the leaves` His early poem Endymion (1818) , in four books, is based on old ideas: the old gods, the love of the moon-goddess for a shepherd, Venus and Adonis, Glaucus and Scylla. It was violently criticized, but he did not lose faith in himself. In 1820 he published Lamia (in which a snake is changed into a beautiful girl). Isabella was in the same book. It is taken from a story in Boccaccio’s Decameron. Isabella was in the
same book. It is taken from a story in Boccaccio’s Decameron. Isabella is the daughter of a proud family of Florence. Lorenzo falls in love with her, and her brothers kill him. She finds his buried body and puts his head in a flower-pot. Her brothers notice that she spends a lot of time with this pot, and they steal it. When they find the head in it, they feel guilty and escape. The Eve of Saint Agnes, which belongs to this time also, is based on the idea that on that night girls may see their lovers in dreams.
Hyperion (1818) was never finished. Hyperion is the old sun-god. The young Apollo, god of music and poetry and the sun, is introduced, but there the poem ends. It contains several examples of the stillness in some of Keats’s poetry. The same effects may be found in his Ode on a Grecian Urn (1819), a description of the figures on its side, which will never move. Other great odes written at about the same time are To a nightingale (My hear
aches) and To Autumn (season of mists). He wrote more than twenty sonnets. One of the best is One First Looking into Chapman’s Homer (Oft have I travelled). Keats wrote poetry of rich detail. He also wrote a good ballad, La Belle Dame Sans Merci, in which a knight dreams of his lady, but wakes alone on a cold hillside, ‘where no birds sing.’ ‘La Belle Dame’ is supposed by some to be tuberculosis, a disease which killed Keats at the early age of twenty-six.
Ode on Melancholy LOGO
No, no! go not to Lethe, neither twistWolf's-bane, tight-rooted, for its poisonous wine;Nor suffer thy pale forehead to be kissedBy nightshade, ruby grape of Proserpine;Make not your rosary of yew-berries,Nor let the beetle nor the death-moth beYour mournful Psyche, nor the downy owlA partner in your sorrow's mysteries;For shade to shade will come too drowsily,And drown the wakeful anguish of the soul..
But when the melancholy fit shall fallSudden from heaven like a weeping cloud,That fosters the droop-headed flowers all,And hides the green hill in an April shroud;Then glut thy sorrow on a morning rose,Or on the rainbow of the salt sand-wave,Or on the wealth of globed peonies;Or if thy mistress some rich anger shows,Emprison her soft hand, and let her rave,And feed deep, deep upon her peerless eyes.
She dwells with Beauty -- Beauty that must die;And Joy, whose hand is ever at his lipsBidding adieu; and aching Pleasure nigh,Turning to poison while the bee-mouth sips;Ay, in the very temple of delightVeiled Melancholy has her sovran shrine,Though seen of none save him whose strenuoustongueCan burst Joy's grape against his palate fine;His soul shall taste the sadness of her might,And be among her cloudy trophies hung
Ode on Melancholy • Summary The three stanzas of the "Ode on Melancholy" address the subject of how to cope with sadness. LOGO
Ode on Melancholy • Summary The first stanza tells what not to do: The sufferer should not "go to Lethe," or forget their sadness. ※For shade to shade will come too drowsily, And drown the wakeful anguish of the soul. (Line9-10) LOGO
Ode on Melancholy • Summary In the second stanza, the speaker tells the sufferer what to do in place of the things he forbade in the first stanza. When afflicted with "the melancholy fit," the sufferer should instead overwhelm his sorrow with natural beauty, glutting it on the morning rose, "on the rainbow of the salt sand-wave," or in the eyes of his beloved. LOGO
Ode on Melancholy • Summary In the third stanza, the speaker explains these injunctions, saying that pleasure and pain are inextricably linked: Beauty must die, joy is fleeting, and the flower of pleasure is forever. ※ “Turning to poison while the bee-mouth sips." The speaker says that the shrine of melancholy is inside the "temple of Delight," but that it is only visible if one can overwhelm oneself with joy until it reveals its center of sadness, by "burst[ing] Joy's grape against his palate fine." The man who can do this shall "taste the sadness" of melancholy's might and "be among her cloudy trophies hung." LOGO