john keats' saying

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john keats' saying

Postby seher » Thu Nov 16, 2006 1:28 am

hi :)
ı wonder if some one can explain to me what does Keats whants to
say by this sentence ı'm confused so much :? :?
'' the poets are the most unpoetical creatures of God's creatures,they have no identitiy...''
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Postby woolf_fire37 » Fri Nov 17, 2006 2:11 am

Hmm, interesting quote. Do you have information on the context of the quote?
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Postby woolf_fire37 » Fri Nov 17, 2006 2:23 am

Ah, I found it! It is a bit long...

"As to the poetical Character itself....it is not itself - it has no self - it is every thing and nothing - It has no character - it enjoys light and shade; it lives in gusto, be it foul or fair, high or low, rich or poor, mean or elevated. It has as much delight in conceiving an Iago as an Imogen. What shocks the virtuous philosop[h]er, delights the camelion Poet.... A Poet is the most unpoetical of any thing in existence; because he has no Identity - he is continually in for - and filling some other Body - The Sun, the Moon, the Sea and Men and Women who are creatures of impulse are poetical and have about them an unchangeable attribute - the poet has none; no identity - he is certainly the most unpoetical of all God's Creatures....It is a wretched thing to confess; but it is a very fact that not one word I ever utter can be taken for granted as an opinion growing out of my identical nature - how can it, when I have no nature? When I am in a room with people if I ever am free from speculating on creations of my own brain, then not myself goes home to myself: but the identity of every one in the room begins to press upon me that, I am in a very little time annihilated."


Ok, Keats is saying that a poet is the most unpoetical being because he has no identity. He is what he writes about and nothing more than that. This is where Keats' "negative capability" comes ino play. His theory of negative capability (that sounds so scientific :P) states that a person must be able to completely immerse himself in what he is writing about with no trace of himself.

Hopefully that gets you started. :) Happy interpreting!
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Postby Papillon » Fri Nov 17, 2006 2:58 am

I agree with wolf fire. Keats found poetry in nature, in art, in poetry...these elements can be viewed as poetry. The poet himself, however, should attempt to "lose himself" and become a conduit for the art.

Try searching for "negative capability" online if you're still confused. Keats mentions it (and explains it) in some of his letters.

Does that make sense?
"The true voyage of discovery lies not in discovering new landscapes but in having new eyes." ~ Marcel Proust
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Postby Apollonius » Fri Nov 17, 2006 1:32 pm

For what it is worth, I think Keats is thinking about Shakespeare here.

You cannot find Shakespeare the man in his plays. You find all of humanity. Of Shakespeare himslef, his politics, his religion, his tastes, there is nothing. The poet is gone and disappeared behind his work. Only the poetry remains.

I think Keats does this best in To Autumn.
The tygers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.
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Postby Saturn » Fri Nov 17, 2006 1:35 pm

Good work everyone - hope this helps you seher :D
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Postby dks » Fri Nov 17, 2006 6:54 pm

Apollonius wrote:For what it is worth, I think Keats is thinking about Shakespeare here.

You cannot find Shakespeare the man in his plays. You find all of humanity. Of Shakespeare himslef, his politics, his religion, his tastes, there is nothing. The poet is gone and disappeared behind his work. Only the poetry remains.

I think Keats does this best in To Autumn.


Yes...and of course Keats so admired and loved Shakespeare for his singular ability to separate himself from the psychological truths illustrated in his characters rather than reflected on him. But there is a bit of irony here with regard to his philosophies of the Camelion Poet...Keats integrates himself into his work constantly...unbeknownst to him...this is one the important reasons he is revered (alongside Shakespeare at that!) and widely studied--as an epitomized example of Romanticism as purveyed through individual feeling...

The annihilation of the poet is the identity "dissolving" as it were. Keats used that idea repeatedly--the "dissloving and forgetting" or the "ceasing to be." There is a definitive bridge there between his feelings of death and poetry...(commingling love in there, as well.) This idea helps reinforce his thoughts on holy truth within imagination (the poet's)--or that capability of "being in uncertainties"--there again, a Romantic notion.

I agree with you about "To Autumn." If there was to be an exemplary showcasing of his "becoming the thing itself" that would be it--I think critics agree, as they often dub that ode as "the most perfect poem in the English language."

Perhaps some of his longer narrative poems possess this quality to an extent, too--like Lamia, Eve of St. Agnes...but even in those, you find hints of 'characters' or people who were large forces in his actual life--especially in his female characters.

The fact that he was indeed that close to his work and seemed to have reached those heights he longed for through poetry makes his epitaph all the more achingly sad, doesn't it? :cry:
"I am certain of nothing but the holiness of the heart's affections and the Truth of Imagination."
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Postby Apollonius » Mon Nov 20, 2006 6:31 pm

Thank you for responding so thoughtfully to my ideas. You have clarified a great deal for me about those "solution" ideas.

I will look at those concepts with new eyes now.
The tygers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.
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