Should we read Wordsworth to appreciate Keats?

Discussion on the works of John Keats.

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Postby Saturn » Sat Dec 11, 2004 10:43 pm

:roll: Wordsworth wasn't particularly rich at all - and Byron was in debt all his life (in terms of Aristocrats he was practically destitute despite his seemingly lavish spending)

Wordsworth had a government post but this was just to supplement his meagre income from his writings. He lived in a small cottage in the lake district.
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Postby Despondence » Sun Dec 12, 2004 9:28 pm

Wordsworth clearly had some social problems, and he was apparently at his worst during the few years that Keats produced poetry. He seemed to redeem himself somewhat toward older age. One could even speculate that Keats' death had something to do with that transition (but there's no substance behind this that I know, just my own lofty speculation).

And coming back, I still do not take it for granted that Wordsworth's "pretty piece of paganism" was such a major attack on Keats. There's certainly no evidence from Keats' own correspondence that this particular event (if it took place) had such a severe impact on him as Haydon would have us believe. And many biographers agree that "paganism" would not be something that was automatically dismissed by Wordsworth.

And always keep in mind that the only source for the whole incident was Haydon 30 years after the event, apparently decending into madness, who shortly thereafter took his own life. Who knows how much he might have embellished the recount to get his personal view across - which might not have been a correct interpretation on his part to begin with. In many ways I can even feel sorry for Wordsworth. His manners made him and his poetry the target of scorn and numerous parodies. What a misery.
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Postby Saturn » Mon Dec 13, 2004 10:25 am

I don't think I was implying that the Wordsworth incident affected Keats very deeply or anything like that - I think it kind of made him see that for all his great poetry (and, despite what some might think, there is some brilliant poetry by Wordsworth) he wasn't some kind of perfect demi-god in the same way as his other idols like Milton, Spenser and Shakespeare - who (being conveniently dead) he could never have been disappointed by meeting in the flesh.

I suppose it's akin to someone today meeting their favourite actor or singer and being disappointed by their behaviour.

The poets (especially Byron in particular) were the 19th century equivalent of movie stars and rock stars so people did kind of put them on a pedestal as Keats did with Wordsworth.

I think anybody who idolises Keats in a similar way would have been disappointed by the flesh-and-blood man who was not some kind of angelic, aethereal spirit, but a rough and ready man of his time with all that that implies about his beliefs and his behaviour.
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I doubt Keats exalted Wordsworth

Postby MonroeDoctrine » Tue Dec 14, 2004 4:58 am

Assertions:

1)Keats wouldn't worship celebrities.

2)I would argue that Percy Shelly's in Defense of Poetry tells the world more about Keats than anything else.

3)I would actually argue that Keats had more respect for Shelly than Wordsworth
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Postby Saturn » Tue Dec 14, 2004 10:42 am

Are you telling me that Keats didn't worship Milton, Shakespeare and Spenser?

Of course they weren't celebrities in the modern sense, but they were literary giants who Keats looked up to and deeply admired.
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No WAY!

Postby MonroeDoctrine » Thu Dec 16, 2004 1:02 am

Shakespear and Milton never were and are not celebrities!

Byron and Wordsworth were and always will be celebrities
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Postby Despondence » Fri Dec 17, 2004 4:36 pm

Stephen Saturn wrote:I think anybody who idolises Keats in a similar way would have been disappointed by the flesh-and-blood man who was not some kind of angelic, aethereal spirit..
Yeah, probably. But given the cast, I still would choose Keats for a private chat if these dead poets could be brought back for a short while. I'd give anything to hear him recite some of his own poems in that "most touching half chant" described by so many of his contemporaries. That would be something!
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Re: I doubt Keats exalted Wordsworth

Postby Despondence » Fri Dec 17, 2004 4:39 pm

MonroeDoctrine wrote:Assertions: [snip all]
Yes, Monroe, you assert a lot with much confidence and little reference...
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Postby Saturn » Fri Dec 17, 2004 6:10 pm

Despondence wrote:

But given the cast, I still would choose Keats for a private chat if these dead poets could be brought back for a short while. I'd give anything to hear him recite some of his own poems in that "most touching half chant" described by so many of his contemporaries. That would be something!


:) I have to agree with that - of all the poets of that period, Keats is the one I most relate to in terms of social background, personality and behaviour. Byron mostly looked down on the middle and working class, and even Shelley to a certain extent was aloof from the working class -for all his egalitarian principles it never occoured to him to get a job to provide for his family. Coleridge also I would have loved to have met - if only to hear his legendary "torrent of eloquence".
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