music and poetry

The life of John Keats the man: his family, his friends, and his contemporaries.

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music and poetry

Postby Despondence » Fri Jun 27, 2003 12:53 pm

I'm wondering about music and poetry. On the first level, I would be interested to hear what kind of music people like to associate to Keats' poetry, or listen to while reading his works.

Personally, I very much like the balance of drama and romance and the minor-major contrasts found in Schubert's piano sonatas and impromptus. The genius of Schubert that comes out in his pianissimo goes so well with the romantic and mystical character of Keats' poetry.

The solo piano recitals also have a much more poetic and personal character than orchestral or symphonic works, to my mind. The fact that Schubert was exactly contemporary with Keats and died of illness at the age of 31, also somehow reinforces my image of them as mirror reflections in the musical and poetical world.

Secondly, I'm wondering whether contemporary or "classical" music had any influence on Keats himself (although it usually goes the other way around, composers setting music to poetry). Did he take any inspiration in music at all? I have not read of this, but would be interested to know if there is such an influence.

Reply to Despondence

Postby shff » Thu Sep 18, 2003 6:25 am

I like piano sonatas very much. Just like your name,I also feel
I'm agree with you that: The solo piano recitals also have a much more poetic and personal character than orchestral or symphonic works.
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Postby The Mess Kit » Sat Nov 08, 2003 10:45 pm

i recall reading a letter in which keats wrote of mozart, haydn, and one other. i recall he thought haydn 'maddening' in a positive sense...wish i could remember more. i believe i read it in helen whats-her-name's The Odes of John Keats, a very good book.
The Mess Kit
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Postby Despondence » Mon Dec 15, 2003 9:07 pm

Browsing through a new edition of the complete poems, I came across your reference in the epistle to Charles Cowden Clarke:

But many days have past since last my heart
Was warm’d luxuriously by divine Mozart;
By Arne delighted, or by Handel madden’d;
Or by the song of Erin pierc’d and sadden’d

I'm assuming Arne refers to Thomas Augustine Arne, but I don't know who Erin might be. Anybody knows? Anyway, guess that doesn't reveal too much about the influence of music on K's writing. Sounds to me like he thinks of it just as a meditation, or amusement. Like claret, I guess.

Correction to self (12/17/03):
Reading on, Barnard's notes on this epistle say that
Keats reacted strongly on Mozart. On 14 October 1818 he wrote '...she kept me awake one Night as a tune of Mozart's might do.' Clarke was a good pianist, and first excited Keats' love of music.

Furthermore, Erin presumably means Ireland, and "the songs of Erin" plausibly Thomas Moore's Irish Melodies.

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