Discuss Keats as a Romantic Poet

Discuss Keats as a Romantic Poet

Discuss Keats as a Romantic Poet : John Keats is in many ways the most romantic of all romantic poets. Romantic poetry aims at the complete expression of the individual as compared to classical poetry, which aims at the expression of social experience.

Keats as a Romantic Poet

Other romantic poets have some political or social comment in their poetry. But the poetry of Keats is not a vehicle of any prophecy or any message. It is poetry for its own sake. It has no moral, no political or social significance. It is therefore the purest poetry.

All romantic poetry is more or less escapist. Romantic poetry presents not the world of reality but the world of dreams. The romantic poet seeks an escape from the hard realities of life in a world of romance and beauty. Keats is the most romantic of all the poets in the sense that he is most escapist of them all. His “Ode to a Nightingale” is marked by a contrast between the happiness of the bird and the unhappiness of the poet.

The song of the Nightingale makes the poet long to escape from the world of reality over-shadowed by misery and death. But this does not give rise to a desire to over throw tyrants, as it does in Shelley nor does he think of a better world.

Addition of strangeness to beauty:

The romantic quality in literature has been defined by Pater as `the addition of strangeness of beauty’. In nothing else is Keats as romantic as in his frank pursuit of beauty. Beauty is Deity, Beauty for him is synonymous with truth. A thing of beauty is for him a joy forever: Beauty is his religion. It is in this pursuit of beauty that he completely forgets himself and the world around him.

“Ode on a Grecian Urn” is a complex poem which deals several ideas. But the most significant idea of this poem is the in relation to life. Beauty and truth are not two separate things.

“Beauty is truth, truth beauty, that is all

Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know”

The romantic imagination of the poet reveals in a flash a world beyond this world-the world of eternity where the nightingale sings forever and forever. The song of the nightingale becomes a symbol of the universal spirit of Beauty.

Like all romantics, Keats has love for nature and its varied charms. He has a vivid sense of colour, and he transfigures everything into beauty that he touches with “the magic hand of chance”.

In his Ode to Autumn, the treatment of the subject is objective as Keats presents a rich and vivid picture of the season. The poem is a nature-lyric and only the beauty and bounty of nature during the Autumn are described in a vivid and realistic manner. He describes Autumn as the “season of mists and mellow fruitfulness”-In the third he says,

“Where are the songs of spring Ay where are they?

Think not of them, thou has! thy music too.”

To the poet Autumn is complete in itself with its own beauty and luxurious fruitfulness.

Sensuousness is the out-standing characteristic of Romantic poets. Keats is pre-eminently a poet of sensuousness.

One of the most striking notes of romantic poetry is that of supernaturalism. Keats dealt with the supernatural in his La Belle Dame Sans Merci. And in that little poem he has condensed a whole world of super natural mystery.

Love of the past is another character. Like all other romantic poets, Keats seeks an escape in the past. His imagination is attracted by the ancient Greeks as well as the glory and splendour of the Middle Ages. Most of his poetry is inspired by the past.

The themes of Keats’s poetry are romantic in their 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, (disappointment in love).

Keats is known as the Romantic poet in the English literature. His poetry is a fine example of highly romantic poetry. In fact, it touched almost all the aspects of romantic poetry, love of beauty, love of nature, love of the past, supernaturalism, glow of emotion, and last but not the least in importance, the revealing power of imagination.

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