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Comparison Between John Keats and William Wodsworth

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Keats fell ill with tuberculosis caused mainly by the stress of censure from the critics. He travelled with his friend Severn to Italy in order to recuperate but despite Severn's attentions, Keats died in Rome. His final wish was to have inscribed on his tombstone the words 'Here lies one whose name was writ in water'. Severn augmented the inscription to read:

'This Grave contains all the was Mortal, of a YOUNG ENGLISH POET Who, on his Death Bed, in the Bitterness of his Heart, at the Malicious Power of his Enemies, Desired these Words to be engraven on his Tomb Stone - Here lies One Whose Name was writ in Water.'

In John Keats (1795-1821), the last and youngest of the later revolutionary group, we have a remarkable contrast both with Byron on the one side and with Shelley on the other.Keats was neither rebel nor utopian dreamer.Endowed with a purely artistic nature,he took up in regard to all the movements and conflicts of his time a position of almost complete detachment. He knew nothing of byron's stormy spirit of antagonism to the existing order of things, and he had no sympathy with shelley's humanitarian zeal and passion for reforming the world.According to his conception of it,poetry should be, not the vehicle of philosophy, religious teaching, or social and political theories, but the incarnation of beauty.The famous opening line of Endymion -'a thing of beauty is a joy for ever' - strikes the key note of his work. 'I have loved'. He declared in one of his later letters, 'the principle of beauty in all things';and as the modern world seemed to him to be hard,cold, and prosaic , he habitually sought an imaginative escape from it, not like Shelley into future land of promise,but into the past of greek mythology, as in Endymion ,Lamia,and the fragmentary ,hyperion, or of mediavel romance, as in The Eve of St. Agnes, Isabella ,and La Bella Dame Sans Merci .In his treatment of nature this same passion for sensous beauty is still the dominant feature.He loved nature just for his own sake poet has ever been nearer then he was to the simple 'poetry of earth'; but there was nothing mystrical in the love, and nature was never fraught for him, as for Wordworth and Shelley, with spiritual messages and meanings.

Keats died of consumption before he had completed his twenty-sixth year, and is therefore,in shelley's phrase,one of 'the inheritor of unfulfilled reown'. Allowance must thus always be made for the immaturity and experimental character of much of his work. His genious was ripening steadily at the time of premature death, and we can measure his moral and spiritual and as well as his artistic growth during the few years of his manhood by comparing his first little volume of verse published in 1817 , or Endymion which appeared the next year,with the content of his third and last volume-the volume of 1819 - and especially with the great odes to Autumn , To a nightingle, and On a Grecian Urn. But even as it is,his place is assured , as Shelley prophesied, 'with the enduring dead'.Historically, he is important for three reasons.First,on the side of form and style he is the most romantic of the romantic poets,handling even his greek themes with a luxuriance of language and a wealth of detail as far as possible removed from the temperance and restraint of Hellenic art.Here, in particular,we note his entire rejection of the classic couplet, for which, following the lead of his friend leigh Hunt (see next section) he substituted couplets of the loose romantic type. Secondly, more than any other great poet of his time ,he represents te exhaustion of the impulses generated by the social upheaval and the humanitarium enthusiasm of the revolution. With him poetry breaks away from the interests of contemporary life,returns to the past, and devotes itself to the service of beauty. It is for this reason that he seems to stand definetly at the end of his age.Finally, his influence was none the less very strong upon the poets of the succeeding generation.


Also Keats' themes are romantic in nature. Most of his poetry is devoted to the quest of beauty. Love, chivalry, adventure, pathos --- these are some of the themes of his poems. Another strain that runs through his poetry is the constant fear of death, which finds very beautiful expression in his sonnet, 'When I Have Fears'. Like all romantics, Keats loves nature and its varied charms. He transfigures everything into beauty that he touches with magic hand of chance. All sorts of poetry deals with beauty in one way or the other, but romantic poetry goes a step ahead and imparts strangeness to the beauty. Keats sees beauty in ordinary things of nature. Earth, to him, is a place of where beauty renews itself everyday, the sky is full of huge cloudy symbols of high romance. Keats loves beauty in the flower, in the stream and in the cloud but he loves it in each thing as a part of Universal Beauty, which is infinite --- 'the mighty abstract idea of Beauty'. For Keats, the necessary quality of poetry is submission to the things as they are, without any effort to intellectualize them into something else. Keats often says that the poet must not live for himself, but must feel for others, and must do good, but he must do so by being a poet, not by being a teacher or moralist. There is no didacticism in Keats as there is in Wordsworth. He delivers what he sees; the pleasures of seeing nature and beauty.

Keats, possesses the qualities of romantic and pure poet he loves nature, which is seen by him with Greek temper. He never thinks about past and future and his only concern is the present time; the present moment of beauty and truth. In his early poetry, one can perceive him as an escapist because there was joy and delight and overcharged imagination because of inexperience youth. But with gradual development of thought and experience, he comes to the conclusion that sorrows and joys are always together; rose cannot be taken without its thrones. One can clearly sees in his Odes that he is not an escapist but he is accepting the realities of life.

Keats's first book, Poems, was published in 1817. Sales were poor. He spent the spring with his brother Tom and friends at Shankin. It was about this time Keats started to use his letters as the vehicle of his thoughts of poetry. Later T.S. Eliot considered these pieces in The Use of Poetry and the Use of Criticism (1933) "certainly the most notable and most important ever written by any English poet," but also said about Keats's famous Hyperion: "it contains great lines, but I do not know whether it is a great poem." The first of his famous letters Keats wrote to Benjamin Bailey on November 22, 1817. "You perhaps at one time



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