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Peterloo and To Autumn

PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2007 4:23 pm
by Apollonius
Just a little more than a month between these two: the massacre in August 1819 mostly about the price of bread. Keats' poem September.

Motion suggests there might be links. He points out that gleaning had just been made illegal. Try reading the poem with a Radical slant.


PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2007 5:34 pm
by Malia
I remember reading about that in the Motion biography, too. Yes, I think Keats is a little more radical than many analysts give him credit for. There are times when I think biographers/scholars go too far when analyzing both Keats and his work. I've read some downright wacky interpretations of his poetry and Gittings's obsession with Keats's relationship with Isabella Jones is ridiculous. But I think Motion has a point with his political interpretations. Keats was extremely sensitive to the political "winds" of the day and it makes sense that he'd ponder them within his poetry. Maybe he wasn't as overt as some of his contemporaries, but his concerns about freedom and equality (at least equality when it comes to middle and working class males) is there.

PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2007 9:36 pm
by Saturn
Apollonius do you have an exact reference for that?

It's true that Keats was in his own small way a radical, not as overt as perhaps the ultra-radical Shelley of course but he was always more of the liberal persuasion.
From the beginning of his association with the Hunts he would forever be marked out as a radical.

Merely being part of that circle was to be classed a radical, a dangerous force and which gave the right-wing government mouthpiece newspapers and journals the ammunition to criticise the work of Keats and the rest of the so-called Lake poets [a bigger misnomer there never was].

I've always thought that part of the criticism of Keats' work was not merely as a result of his 'cockney' background, but of his political sympathies, or at least his percieved sympathies merely because he was a known associate of Hunts.


PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2007 8:47 am
by Apollonius
Thanks. You have confirmed there is something in these ideas. Roe, also, (I believe) emphasises Keats as a Radical.

I will be floating your ideas in my Y12 lesson this morning (with acknowledgements, of course).

Edit: Just got back to my office after said lesson. We did discuss the effect Peterloo might have had on Keats and the feeling in the country. After a final reading of the poem with these ideas in mind, we generally found more of the young man accepting mortality than the radical sympathetic to the cause of the poor and starving. Worth a try though.

PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2007 9:50 am
by Saturn
Oh I wouldn't do that my "ideas" are only my own opinions :oops:

And you're a teacher Apollonius?

Year 12? **Shudders**

I'm sure that's fun teaching English to that age group :wink:

PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2007 10:24 am
by Apollonius
I teach English to Y9 to 13. Mostly Literature. I have been doing it for 35 years and love it still.

Yes, before you ask, a "bog-standard" comprehensive.

PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2007 12:12 pm
by Saturn
Nowt wrong with that.

A very honourable and admirable profession and no doubt a tough job.

I bow to your many years of experience :!: