English poet, b. London. His first volume of poems appeared in 1817. It included " I stood tip-toe upon a little hill," "Sleep and Poetry," and the famous sonnet "On First Looking into Chapman's Homer." He died of tuberculosis in Rome. One of the principal poets in the English Romantic movement, who endured major criticism during his lifetime and was posthumously defended by figures like Shelley, who helps raise his status.
Works: On First Looking Into Chapman's Homer, Ode upon a Grecian Urn, Ode to a Nightingale, Ode on Melancholy, Endymion, The Eve of St. Agnes, La Belle Dame Sans Merci, Hyperion, Cristabel
Keats' poetry differs from Wordsworth's 'nature as religion,' and instead focuses on more depressing subjects (c'mon, he died at 26). Keats felt that the deepest meaning of life lay in the apprehension of material beauty, although his mature poems reveal his fascination with a world of death and decay.
Adapted from Boccaccio's Decameron, Isabella is written in ottava rima (the stanza form that Byron brought back from Italy). Isabella and Lorenzo fall in love with each other, but he is in a society class beneath her, she is from a wealthy family and lives with her two brothers. For a while they are secretly in love, but do not speak of it. Then she falls ill and Lorenzo braves the risk of being shunned. But she is ill because she is in love with Lorenzo and is pining away. When he speaks of his love to her, her spirits are lifted and they begin to steal secret moments together. Her two brothers overhear and see them, and because he is of a lower class and unable to support her financially, they plot to murder him so that she has no chance of marrying him against their wishes.
So they slay him in the forest and bury him. Then they return to tell Isabell they had sent him on business far away. She pines for Lorenzo and after months, starts to fade in beauty because of her loss of love and life without Lorenzo. One night Lorenzo appears to her in a vision and tells her of his death at the hands of her brothers and where he is buried. She takes an old nurse with her and together they unearth his grave. Isabella removes his head from his body and wraps it in a scarf, then plants it in a pot and covers it with basil.
She cares for the basil with her tears and love, laments over the potted basil and grieves like a widow. The brothers are puzzled over her obsession for the basil and steal it away from her. Then they discover the secret beneath the basil, and destroy it. Isabella is destroyed as well, and cries for her sweet basil.
He follow'd through a lowly arched way,
Brushing the cobwebs with his lofty plume;
And as she mutter'd "Well-a'well-a-day!"
He found him in a little moonlight room,
Pale, lattic'd, chill, and silent as a tomb.
"Now tell me where is Madeline," said he,
"O tell me, Angela, by the holy loom
"Which none but secret sisterhood may see,
"When they St. Agnes' wool are weaving piously."
Keats, Eve of St. Agnes, The upheaval in Keats' life lead him to a poetic place, and that journey is mapped within the careful story of young Madeline and her husband to be, Porphyro. The joining of the brave poetic spirit, Porphyro, with the innocent receptacle of the poet, Madeline, is found within the poem's story. Written in Spenserian stanza (The stanza consists of eight lines of iambic pentameter followed by a single alexandrine, a twelve-syllable iambic line. The final line typically has a caesura, or break, after the first three feet. The rhyme scheme of these lines is "ababbcbcc). Keats, La Belle Dame Sans Merci, Ballad-like. The poet meets a knight by a woodland lake in late autumn. The man has been there for a long time, and is evidently dying. The knight says he met a beautiful, wild-looking woman in a meadow. He visited with her, and decked her with flowers. She did not speak, but looked and sighed as if she loved him. He gave her his horse to ride, and he walked beside them. He saw nothing but her, because she leaned over in his face and sang a mysterious song. She spoke a language he could not understand, but he was confident she said she loved him. He kissed her to sleep, and fell asleep himself. He dreamed of a host of kings, princes, and warriors, all pale as death. They shouted a terrible warning -- they were the woman's slaves. And now he was her slave, too. Awakening, the woman was gone, and the knight was left on the cold hillside. Two different versions: (wight is the OE word for man). (last stanza) O Attic shape! Fair attitude! with brede
Of marble men and maidens overwrought,
With forest branches and the trodden weed;
Thou, silent form, dost tease us out of thought
As doth eternity. Cold Pastoral!
When old age shall this generation waste,
Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say'st,
"Beauty is truth, truth beauty"---that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.
English Romantic poet who rebelled against English politics and conservative values. Shelley was considered with his friend Lord Byron a pariah for his life style. He drew no essential distinction between poetry and politics, and his work reflected the radical ideas and revolutionary optimism of the era. Like many poets of his day, Shelley employed mythological themes and figures from Greek poetry that gave an exalted tone for his visions. Most famous for such classic anthology verse works as "Ozymandias", Ode to the West Wind, To a Skylark, Music, When Soft Voices Die, The Cloud and The Masque of Anarchy. His major works, however, are long visionary poems which included Queen Mab (later reworked as The Daemon of the World), Alastor, The Revolt of Islam, Adonaïs and the unfinished work The Triumph of Life. The Cenci (1819) and Prometheus Unbound (1820) were dramatic plays in five and four acts respectively. Shelley, Mount Blanc, Lines Written in the Vale of Chamouni
The highest peak in Europe, was the pinnacle of reaching the sublime. Inspired to look inward by the sight of the river valley, Shelley has a sudden and clear understanding of the workings of his mind: his mind is involved in a constant exchange of information with his environment. Shelley stresses that his mind "passively" partakes in this exchange, implying that he is, in some respects at least, merely a vehicle for the reception and transmission of information. This theme that the poetic mind acts as a passive receiver and transmitter is recurrent in Romantic poetry, most notably in the motif of the Eolian harp, a kind of wind-powered musical instrument, used by Coleridge in a poem named for the instrument and "Dejection, An Ode," as well as by Shelley himself in "Ode to the West Wind" (Norton p. 331).
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said:—Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shatter'd visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp'd on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock'd them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
Make me thy lyre, even as the forest is:
What if my leaves are falling like its own!
The tumult of thy mighty harmonies
Will take from both a deep, autumnal tone,
Sweet though in sadness. Be thou, Spirit fierce,
My spirit! Be thou me, impetuous one!
Drive my dead thoughts over the universe
Like wither'd leaves to quicken a new birth!
And, by the incantation of this verse,
Scatter, as from an unextinguish'd hearth
Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind!
Be through my lips to unawaken'd earth
The trumpet of a prophecy! O Wind,
If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?
Shelley, A Defense of Poetry (essay). Shelley was moved to write this essay by an ironic statement made by Thomas Love Peacock in his volume The Four Ages of Poetry. Peacock stated that poetry was no longer useful because of the progress of technology and science. Shelley began his defense of poetry by distinguishing between reason and imagination, asserting that reason is a lesser faculty, having to do only with the analysis of things. He argued that imagination sees values and relationships and therefore is a creative faculty. Poetry, Shelley stated, is the expression of the imagination.
Shelley traces the development of poetry from early "savage" times to mature civilizations. He believes that the function of poetry is to give order to the world and thereby to give pleasure. Thus, poets act as legislators, inventing the "art" of life, and also as prophets, because they focus on the eternal and infinite rather than just the local and temporary. By this broad definition even philosophers like Plato or Bacon were poets, and the great poets--Shakespeare, Dante, and Milton--were philosophers.
The effect of poetry is, first of all, pleasure. But more than that, poetry makes people better by softening their natures, by enlarging their sympathies, by encouraging love, and by not being narrowly moralistic. Shelley states that the best poets do not try to teach and that society needs poets. He argues that humans have more practical and technical knowledge than they can possibly use, but that without the values embodied in poetry such knowledge is used to exploit people and cause them misery.
Shelley further proposes that poetry does not come from the reason or the will but rather form the mind in moments of inspiration. He states that the imagination creates far more beautiful images than the composing poet can record. Thus a poet is a person of greater than ordinary sensibility. The poet is happy in the operations of his own mind because he "turns all things to loveliness."
Finally, Shelley proposes in a second part (never written) to discuss contemporary poetic practice. He felt that he was living in an era of great poetry, at a time when enormous social and political upheaval was inspiring poetry. What he called "the spirit of the age" gave power to each individual poet. Shelley concluded with the most famous phrase of the essay: "Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the World." (Also mentions Dante)
She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that's best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellow'd to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.
One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impair'd the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o'er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.
And on that cheek, and o'er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!
Coleridge's thesis is that the imagination is the supreme faculty of the human intellect, and its cultivation is both a prerequisite and the aim of poetry. For him, "imagination" is the process of keenly perceiving the phenomena of the world and self, and then re-expressing phenomena through the creative faculties of the poet's whole being, the mind and the soul, the rational and the irrational.
Be sure not to confuse this work with Addison's "Pleasures of Imagination"--know this one by C's use of capitals for IMAGINATION and FANCY:
"The IMAGINATION, then, I consider either as
primary, or secondary. The primary IMAGINATION
I hold to be the living power and prime
agent of all human perception, and as a repetition
in the finite mind of the eternal act of creation in
the infinite I AM. The secondary I consider as an
echo of the former, coexisting with the conscious
will, yet still as identical with the primary in the
kind of its agency, and differing only in degree,
and in the mode of its operation."
OVERVIEW: This poem, the first part of which was written in 1797, is also a fragment. Coleridge had wanted to include it in the 1800 Lyrical Ballads, but it was not yet finished; it was still incomplete when he finally published it in 1816. As it stands, the poem is the beginning of a medieval tale about a demon or witch.' It is writen in a strange meter of four stresses to a line, and a varying number of unstressed syllables. (Such a meter was used in medieval Anglo-Saxon poetry.)
PART 1. At the poem's opening, it is midnight in Landdale Castle. Everyone is asleep except Christabel, the lovely daughter of Sir Leoline, the lord of the castle. Christabel is roaming in the woods, thinking about her lover, a knight to whom she is betrothed but who is now far away. Hearing a moaning coming from the other side of an oak tree, Christabel discovers a beautiful pale lady, barefoot and with jewels in her hair, who begs for help. Her name is Geraldine. She tells Christabel that she was abducted from her home by five warriors, who tied her to a white horse and brought her to this oak tree and left her, vowing to return. Geraldine begs Christabel for help. They walk back to the castle of Sir Leoline, at the entrance to which Geraldine falls down and must be lifted over the doorstep. This is the first of several hints that Geraldine is an evil spirit, because such beings cannot pass on their own through a doorway that has been blessed. Likewise, when Christabel utters a prayer of thanks to "the Virgin" that they are safe inside, Geraldine cannot join in the prayer. The old watchdog does not bark at this stranger; he only mutters in his sleep, and the ashes in the fireplace suddenly flame up as Geraldine passes by. In Christabel's chamber the two ladies undress for sleep. They lie down together, Christabel wrapped in the arms of Geraldine. As Christabel sleeps, the guardian spirit of her dead mother is driven away by Geraldine. Thus, by the end of the first part, the poet has led the reader to the conclusion that Geraldine is entrapping Christabel or trying to seduce her, to capture her soul. But he reminds us that "saints will aid if men will call."
PART 2. It is morning. Geraldine and Christabel rise and dress, but Christabel retains an uneasy sense of the sinister influence of Geraldine. They visit Sir Leoline, to whom Geraldine introduces herself as the daughter of Lord Roland de Vaux, a man who had once been Sir Leoline's closest friend but had since become a bitter enemy. Captivated by the beauty of Geraldine, who embraces and kisses him, Sir Leoline tells his bard Bracey to travel to the castle of Lord Roland and invite him to come back to Langdale Castle. Meanwhile, Sir Leoline challenges the five scoundrels who abducted Geraldine to appear at a tournament one week later to defend, if they can, their honor. But, seeing Geraldine's influence over her father, Christabel asks that the guest be sent home at once. Sir Leoline, captivated by Geraldine and in a fury at this breech of hospitality, responds angrily to his daughter. Christabel cannot explain her fears because her tongue has been bewitched by Geraldine. The second part ends with the poet's meditation about the irrational anger of a parent toward an innocent child.
I cry, Love! Love! Love! Happy, happy love, free as the mountain wind!
Can that be love that drinks another as a sponge drinks water,
That clouds with jealousy his nights, with weepings all the day,
To spin a web of age around him, grey and hoary, dark,
Till his eyes sicken at the fruit that hangs before his sight?
Such is self-love that envies all, a creeping skeleton
With lamplike eyes watching around the frozen marriage bed.
'Twas on a Holy Thursday, their innocent faces clean,
The children walking two and two, in red and blue and green,
Grey headed beadles walk'd before, with wands as white as snow,
Till into the high dome of Paul's they like Thames' waters flow.
Oh what a multitude they seem'd, these flowers of London town!
Seated in companies they sit with radiance all their own.
The hum of multitudes was there, but multitudes of lambs,
Thousands of little boys and girls raising their innocent hands.
Now like a mighty wind they raise to heaven the voice of song,
Or like harmonious thunderings the seats of Heaven among.
Beneath them sit the aged men, wise guardians of the poor;
Then cherish pity, lest you drive an angel from your door.