Keats Paper

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Keats Paper

Postby dks » Tue Apr 18, 2006 11:14 pm

Alright, crew. Here is the finished product--erm, well, I'll post a page at a time and if you guys want me to keep posting after each subsequent page, you can let me know...I had to tie it up rather quickly, as it was due this week and I have another research paper due for my 16th Century Poetry and Prose class and 3 more smaller papers due for Romantics--just please be merciful and kind...this is what a master's level paper may NOT supposed to be like...but I gave it my blood, sweat and tears--as I always do when it comes to the man! :wink:

Page 1: My thesis/topic statement is at the bottom of the opening paragraph.

Denise R. Shelkey
Romantics-Linsley
Spring 2006-MLA


Keats’s Divination:
Foresight and Premonition in “When I Have Fears”


“What porridge had John Keats?” Robert Browning asks this intriguing question in concluding his poem, “Popularity,” trying to define and hone in on that very kernel that separates Keats from other poets. In addition to paeans and tributes by poets, to poets, there are vast multitudes of defining anecdotes about poetry itself. Keats’s definition is faithful to the incorporeal nature of his work: “Poetry should strike the reader as a wording of his own highest thoughts, and appear almost a remembrance.” He has been heralded as an unrivaled genius within the entire Romantic Movement not only for his rapid development as a poet, but also for his strikingly insightful, untutored philosophies found in his letters about poetry and the role of the creative process. Perkins claims his work exhibits, among “effortless magic phrase[s],” “clairvoyance” (Perkins 1181). Meanwhile, Walter Jackson Bate calls his work “clairvoyantly empathic” (Bate 3). Moreover, in one of Keats’s most famous sonnets, “When I Have Fears,” the speaker displays a seeming capacity for precognition as he yearns for the fame and love he believes he’ll be denied due to his own inevitable, untimely death. Was Keats only a supreme example of the ‘poet seer and sage,’ wielding language like a wand, generating rich, magic wordplay? Or did he actually exhibit a semblance of ‘second sight’ in his poetry?
"I am certain of nothing but the holiness of the heart's affections and the Truth of Imagination."
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Postby Fortuna » Wed Apr 19, 2006 2:06 am

:shock:

I love it!

I have never read an English(?) thesis paper but the richness of it is so much more appealing than the scientific, quantitative, empirical stuff that characterises the research in my discipline. Please post more. Or maybe there is a way for you to upload your thesis to YouSendIt or something similar and share the finished product with us all? (As long as you are comfortable with that).

I know that otherwise, I would be posting after each of your pages "more more more!" and goodness knows how many pages you have :D.
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Postby dks » Wed Apr 19, 2006 3:50 am

Fortuna wrote::shock:

I love it!

I have never read an English(?) thesis paper but the richness of it is so much more appealing than the scientific, quantitative, empirical stuff that characterises the research in my discipline. Please post more. Or maybe there is a way for you to upload your thesis to YouSendIt or something similar and share the finished product with us all? (As long as you are comfortable with that).

I know that otherwise, I would be posting after each of your pages "more more more!" and goodness knows how many pages you have :D.


Once again, you're too kind, Miss Fortuna. Thank you, but I was really after this thesis with gusto and hearty wherewithal...until I looked at the clock and it read 3am...that's when I had to tie it up in a "gordian" knot awful quick!!

I hope it is, at least, entertaining within a speculative realm...but all of you can be the judges of that... :wink:
"I am certain of nothing but the holiness of the heart's affections and the Truth of Imagination."
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Postby Saturn » Wed Apr 19, 2006 9:45 am

Very interesting dks - keep posting.

You have whetted our appetities, you can not back out now :wink:
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Postby dks » Wed Apr 19, 2006 2:49 pm

Saturn wrote:Very interesting dks - keep posting.

You have whetted our appetities, you can not back out now :wink:


Your wish is my command. See page 2 (and 1/3) below.

The Romantic Movement had its share of mystics and preternatural forces. Blake saw visions of angels from the time he was eight years old (Perkins 73). Coleridge was able to construct entire poems in his head—from start to finish—while half asleep, apparently, and complete one of the most important and widely studied pieces of critical scholarship in poetics ever written, “Biographia Literaria,” while nursing a profound addiction to opium and battling bouts of depression (Perkins 500). There is Byron, the quintessential Romantic poet who endured an intensely lonely childhood due to neglectful parents and years of wandering, aimlessly, from one domestic situation to another, only feeling really understood and accepted by his half sister, which resulted in tremendous scandal and rumors of incest that would follow him for the rest of his life—all of this and still he managed to churn out ratiocinative, witty and satirical masterpieces like “Don Juan.” (Perkins 846) These are just to name a few. Would it be too far reaching to assert that Keats had some sort of ‘sixth sense’ that he channeled through the genius of his poetry? Biographers and critics have long remarked about Keats’s other worldly abilities—his astonishingly quick development as a first rate poet, his numerous, portentous statements about his own mortality, and his frequent musings about himself and his own nature; Keats was keenly self aware at an age when most men hardly know themselves at all, and, beginning from boyhood, he was no stranger to death.
By the time Keats was fourteen, he had lost his father, mother, uncle, and the beloved grandmother who helped raise him (it should also be noted that he lost an infant brother when he himself was a toddler); he later lost his youngest brother, whom he nursed, to consumption (Ward 13). Keats went on to fall hopelessly in love with Fanny Brawne, literally the girl next door, whom he felt was always “a little inclined toward the Cressid,” and tortured his sensibilities when he couldn’t quite possess her; he himself would eventually become ill from consumption and die at twenty-five, while never marrying Fanny or gaining an inkling of notoriety as a poet. Naturally, one would think that a writer shouldering so much grief from loss and despair, would allow depressive themes to abound, and an inoculation with regards to death and attachment to manifest profusely in his work; this is not entirely so for Keats.
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Postby Malia » Thu Apr 20, 2006 9:09 pm

dks, can you post the rest of your paper all at once? I'd love to be able to read the whole thing :) (OK, just call me Ms. Impatient.)
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Postby dks » Thu Apr 20, 2006 9:33 pm

Malia wrote:dks, can you post the rest of your paper all at once? I'd love to be able to read the whole thing :) (OK, just call me Ms. Impatient.)
:D


Sure, I suppose. I just hate taking up so much forum space with it...here's page 3.

While he harbored a deeply passionate nature prone to intensity and “fits and starts,” Keats dealt with death as a frequent, if not welcome theme in his poetry. In “Ode to a Nightingale” he is “half in love with easeful Death;” the speaker is not afraid to die, but, rather, he thinks “it rich to die.” (Ricks 347) In a letter to Fanny Brawne, Keats reflects on his feelings for her within an interesting dichotomy:
I have two luxuries to brood over in my walks, your Loveliness and the hour of my death. O that I could have possession of them both in the same minute. I hate the world: it batters too much the wings of my self will, and would I could take a sweet poison from your lips to send me out of it (Bush 291).

There is nothing to suggest a man of frail sensibilities in Keats’s letters, and this is truer still with regard to his poetry. After his death in 1821, biographer Richard Monkton Milnes brought to light an immensely talented, under appreciated poet and illuminated his life story for the public, helping to incite a “sentimental appreciation” for the poet and his genius (Ward 412). Over time, biographers have come to even better understand this amazing writer and still more extraordinary man. Keats had a steel resolve (he was quite scrappy as a schoolboy), was exceptionally intelligent (he passed his apothecary exams with flying colors on the first attempt and was promoted to dresser in record time at Guy’s Hospital during the years of his medical training), and, according to friends, was warm-hearted, vivacious, kind, and loyal (Hebron 18). Certainly, Keats’s disposition didn’t showcase a tendency for despondency or brittle rationale. In short, Keats was far from suicidal as a result of earlier experiences with death in his family, not to mention the gory surroundings at the operating theater (Hebron 17). So, why does it seem as though Keats may have predicted his own early death in “When I Have Fears?” The answer is simple: because, perhaps, he did.
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Postby dks » Thu Apr 20, 2006 9:36 pm

..and this will take you up to page 6:


When I Have Fears” is an important work on two levels: firstly, it is Keats’s premier departure from the Petrarchan sonnet tradition as he began to utilize the Shakespearean form, secondly, it was written in January of 1818, before he became seriously ill and started to hemorrhage, and before he fell deeply in love with Fanny Brawne (Ricks 631). His illness and his unrequited love for Ms. Brawne, the impetus of his “posthumous existence,” which roughly made up the final year of his life, were absent when he composed this poem. Although he’d nursed a sore throat for some time after a walking tour of the Lake District, in the beginning of 1818 Keats was certainly young, and, seemingly, still a healthy man. What, exactly, would compel him to dwell on profound thoughts of “ceas[ing] to be?”
In the sonnet’s opening quatrain, the speaker asserts his ‘fear:’
When I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has gleaned my teeming brain,
Before high-piled books, in charactery,
Hold like rich garners the full-ripened grain; (Ricks 221)

In the second line the speaker is worried that he will “cease to be” before he’s had the chance to produce the poetic greatness he feels his mind contains, or could manifest. Keats uses a metaphor about harvesting to convey the speaker’s worries about a writing career cut short without the world realizing the poet’s talent. This is in line with Keats’s realization that he was a young man who still had much to learn and experience; he expounded on this in a letter to his brother, George:
I never can feel certain of any truth but from a clear perception of its Beauty—and I find myself very young minded even in that perceptive power—which I hope will encrease (Bush 282).

If Keats is making a prediction about his untimely death in the sonnet’s opening line, then he is also predicting his posthumous success as a poet. His famous remark, “I think I shall be among the English poets after my death,” is, obviously, highly prophetic (Bush 280). In the sonnet’s second and third line Keats asserts this fore knowledge when he declares that he will die before “high-piled books, in charactery, hold like garners the full-ripened grain;” in short, he feels he will not live long enough to witness his own fame from the resonant production of his future poetic masterpieces.
What is noteworthy about the sonnet’s opening quatrain is how juxtaposed it is to what was occurring in Keats’s life at the time in which he wrote it. The end of 1817 was a social whirlwind for the poet. Before the New Year, Keats had seen Edmund Kean on stage for the first time, dined with Wordsworth on a handful of occasions, attended William Hazlitt’s weekly lectures regularly, and was already writing some of his most rich, philosophical letters. He wrote to his brothers, Tom and George, about “several things [that] dovetailed in [his] mind:”
…at once it struck me, what quality went to form a Man of Achievement especially in Literature & which Shakespeare possessed so enormously—I mean Negative Capability, that is when man is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact & reason…(Bush 261)

In the previous month, Keats had finished his epic, “Endymion,” which he was eager to get to his publisher so he could finish other work (Hebron 58). Needless to say, Keats’s poetic abilities were flourishing, as was his social agenda. Certainly this was a period of “ripening” for Keats; he was meeting new people, accepting invitations to gatherings and parties, while pushing himself to work harder and more diligently on his poetry. Such a thriving, anticipatory time in a young poet’s life hardly seems fit for periods of disquietude or brooding; and, yet, “When I Have Fears” goes on in the second quatrain to expound further on the poet’s acutely felt angst:
When I behold on the night’s starred face,
Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
And think that I may never live to trace
Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance; (Ricks 221)

Lines 5 and 6 find the poet losing himself in his own description of the poetic process; Keats beautifully depicts elemental forces which could be future poetic material. “The night’s starred face,” “huge cloudy symbols,” and “their shadows” are representative of all the sensations, “gusto,” and “light and shade,” which give the poet his inspiration and ability to recognize beauty through the workings of the imagination. In addition to his fear of an early death, Keats had a rather isolating view of the poet and his craft. In a letter to his friend, Richard Woodhouse, he describes the poet and his distinct, if not lonely employment:
As to the poetical Character itself…it is not itself—it has no self—it is everything 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…what shocks the virtuous philosopher, delights the camelion Poet…the poet has [no] identity—he is certainly the most unpoetical of all God’s creatures (Bush 279).

This idea that the poet’s goal should be to diffuse into his surroundings in order to cull truth and beauty is significantly Keatsian. It is an example of one of the chief thematic elements inherent in his works: paradox. This enigmatic view of the poet in relation to his subject matter pervaded Keats’s life, since he continuously experienced contradictory occurrences. He remarked in a letter to Fanny Brawne:
I have never known any unalloy’d happiness for many days together: the death or sickness of someone has always spoilt my hours—and now when none such troubles oppress me, it is you must confess very hard that another sort of pain should haunt me (Hebron 95).
"I am certain of nothing but the holiness of the heart's affections and the Truth of Imagination."
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Postby dks » Thu Apr 20, 2006 9:38 pm

Let me know if anyone wants me to post the rest in one day...
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Postby Brave Archer » Fri Apr 21, 2006 12:18 am

dks wrote:Let me know if anyone wants me to post the rest in one day...



I am enjoying the read, but I think it's unfair to ask that you post the rest in one day-- not sure how many pages you have. I will only ask that you do us the pleasure of soon posting the rest.
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Postby Credo Buffa » Fri Apr 21, 2006 12:50 am

You're sly, dks, sneaking "cool" smileys into your paper like that :wink:

I find your point about the biographical background of "When I Have Fears" very interesting, that he wrote it at a time in his life when things were actually pretty sparkly. . .
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Postby dks » Fri Apr 21, 2006 2:36 am

Credo Buffa wrote:You're sly, dks, sneaking "cool" smileys into your paper like that :wink:

I find your point about the biographical background of "When I Have Fears" very interesting, that he wrote it at a time in his life when things were actually pretty sparkly. . .


Credo! That's so funny you say that...I'm not doing it--I don't know how they're making their way on there--but it's not me!! I kid you not!! :lol:
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Postby dks » Fri Apr 21, 2006 2:36 am

Brave Archer wrote:
dks wrote:Let me know if anyone wants me to post the rest in one day...



I am enjoying the read, but I think it's unfair to ask that you post the rest in one day-- not sure how many pages you have. I will only ask that you do us the pleasure of soon posting the rest.


I don't mind. That is, if anyone cares to read the rest...
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Postby Fortuna » Fri Apr 21, 2006 7:06 am

dks wrote:I don't mind. That is, if anyone cares to read the rest...


Yes, I am assuming your thesis is close to a hundred or more pages long! If it would be easier than to post it page by page, perhaps you could upload the file and share it with us like that?
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Postby dks » Fri Apr 21, 2006 2:25 pm

Fortuna wrote:
dks wrote:I don't mind. That is, if anyone cares to read the rest...


Yes, I am assuming your thesis is close to a hundred or more pages long! If it would be easier than to post it page by page, perhaps you could upload the file and share it with us like that?


Aye, aye, aye, Fortuna...no--I'm not writing my dissertation just yet! It's only about 11 pages--it's the beginning of what my master's thesis will be (probably about 30-40 pages)...I'll post more today.
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