Keats / Happiness

Discussion on the works of John Keats.

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Keats / Happiness

Postby Gazlynn » Thu May 21, 2009 12:12 am

I was wondering does reading Keats make you feel happy?
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Re: Keats / Happiness

Postby BrokenLyre » Thu May 21, 2009 4:00 am

If you don't mind me responding, I would be privileged to share my own personal thoughts on this question. (And I would certainly love to hear how others answer this question). Reading Keats makes me think and feel many things - joy, peace, sorrow, heavy, amazed, stunned, compassionate, vibrant, sad. But mostly I feel strangely and deeply connected with another person. In addition, Keats says things in his poems and letters that resonate deeply with me - as if I wrote them myself. I always thought that sounded funny until I read Keats' own words about his reading of poetry. He wrote to his publisher, John Taylor on February 27, 1818:

"I think Poetry should surprise by a fine excess, and not by Singularity - it should strike the Reader as a wording of his own highest thoughts, and appear almost a Remembrance."

That is exactly what I thought about poetry - especially Keats' poetry. In some ways, it is a wording of my highest thoughts and at times it appears almost as a remembrance to me.

Despite all the varied emotions I feel when reading Keats, I suppose it simply makes me feel human. Somehow in my sympathetic identification with his words, I feel more alive to life, more alert to situations, and more sensitive to people. I feel less alone. Perhaps that's the gift of poetry - to help us see how connected we all are, and to maybe taste - just taste - a deeply satisfying human relationship where we don't feel so alone.
Last edited by BrokenLyre on Mon Jun 01, 2009 5:15 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Keats / Happiness

Postby Gazlynn » Thu May 21, 2009 9:33 am

Wow
Thank you a fantastic reply and totally agree.
As I am new to Keats I feel somewhat privileged that I have found his poetry at a later stage I am 40 years old and although been into music from an early age have never been into any sort of poetry or even books before as am dyslexic. I think the last book I read was fantastic mr fox aged 8!!!
I was reading Keats last night and it got me wondering at this moment in time why do I enjoy it so much as it doesn’t really make me feel happy. Yes some poems make me smile but like you said it is more of an emotional, passionate connection and that I can empathize with the great man. I have always been a passionate and full on person ranging from football hooliganism in my youth to sitting through Wagner’s Ring cycle.
I suppose it isn’t about being jealous of Keats but can’t help but be in awe of his writings and I now feel it is coming a bit obsessive as I want to know more about his life and not just his poetry.
I suppose it leads to my next question do you have to be passionate to enjoy Keats?
Hope you don’t mind all these questions I am a bit like an empty vessel at the moment.
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Re: Keats / Happiness

Postby Malia » Fri May 22, 2009 2:08 am

Does Keats make me feel happy? Hmm. . .not generally--not in any surface-level way, at any rate. I remember when I was first "hit" by the force of his poetry; I was 15 and re-reading To Autumn for the upteenth time and suddenly I was struck by his brilliance. Frankly, his words struck such an image in my mind that I was from that moment transported and transformed! The lines that triggered the experience were: "While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day, / And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue" These lines inspired my imagination and really touched at my soul. I wouldn't call the feeling I experienced "happy" but, rather, breathless and filled with wonder. A happy feeling, no doubt, but oh! so much more!
Stay Awake!
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Re: Keats / Happiness

Postby riverborn » Tue May 26, 2009 2:29 pm

Happy? I dont think so. Keats life, as man and poet, was short and filled with loss and suffering. His poetry expresses the feelings of a man overendowed with both mortal and immortal nature. It made him a great poet, but, to paraphrase Keats, "let the fish wish away the icy waters of winter and he shall bask in the warmth of summer". Keats spoke of happiness- "that which becks us towards a fellowship with essence", but I doubt if he experienced much of it. In short, the life of a God who shits. If Keats poetry made us happy, it would also have made his poetry trite.
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Re: Keats / Happiness

Postby BrokenLyre » Mon Jun 01, 2009 5:37 am

Gazlynn, you ask:

"...do you have to be passionate to enjoy Keats?"

Interesting question. If I understand the notion of passion as deep feeling and perhaps even awareness of that feeling, then I think it helps to be passionate to understand Keats. Everybody has emotions of course, but some people have more emotional registers than others. It seems to me that Keats was a very sensitive man in that art, sculpture, imagination, architecture, flowers, nature, and literature had a way of eliciting deep and abiding emotional responses as he reflected upon his objects. Note his response to the Elgin Marbles upon first seeing them with B.R. Haydon and his subsequent poem.

In my own experience working with many people over years, I have some seen people moved to tearful reflection while talking about soldiers in the war, while others tell the same story and seem unmoved, even when both people are equidistant from the situation. Some people are just moved by lots of things, while others are rarely so. No doubt the receiver brings something to the experience. So I think it helps to have passion (sensitive emotional registers) to understand Keats - at least to understand him existentially. I just wonder why more people don't "get Keats" even after long exposure. So I ask myself often, why does Keats strike me so deeply and not others? It's probably like why certain music strikes some people but not others. Oh well.
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Re: Keats / Happiness

Postby Gazlynn » Mon Jun 01, 2009 2:45 pm

Hi BrokenLyre

Thanks for answering my question I suppose everybody has different levels of emotion. The reason I asked the question is that I sometimes whilst reading Keats get this uncontrollable surge of emotion and sob and I was always sort of proud and pleased I could feel so emotional but have now began to wonder if hitting a wall of overwhelming emotion is passion or some sort of depression??? :shock: The thing is I really enjoy the feeling. Sorry probably not the right place to post this.

I am not asking you to be my shrink :) just trying to answer my question……. :?
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Re: Keats / Happiness

Postby BrokenLyre » Mon Jun 01, 2009 6:50 pm

No problem Gazlynn. I appreciate your thoughts. As I stated before in other comments, sympathetic identification with Keats (and other writers) is what comes naturally for me. Under the right circumstances, if I read some lines from Keats' letters or poems I get so choked up holding back tears. Same if I read Ton Clark's "John Keats: Junets on a Sad Planet." It's a great read (at least for me) because it says what I feel when I contemplate Keats' life. However, it makes me linger in the valley of pain too long, so I do other things to balance out my sensitivities - like watch ESPN Baseball and other sports where celebrations are the norm :D I need humor and sports to give zest to life and balance out my tender seriousness. So I also read and enjoy astronomy, geology, physics, theology, history, music and playing sports.
"Come... dry your eyes, for you are life, rarer than a quark and unpredictable beyond the dreams of Heisenberg; the clay in which the forces that shape all things leave their fingerprints most clearly. Dry your eyes... and let's go home."
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Re: Keats / Happiness

Postby Gazlynn » Mon Jun 01, 2009 10:53 pm

I don’t want to come over as all depressed as mainly I enjoy life but feel a need to explore as many different human emotions as I can and Keats is helping me reach that goal.
I wouldn’t think of anything more painful though than watching a baseball game :lol: that would definitely tip me over the edge. I went to a game once in Toronto went on for about a week and if you hit the ball you where out and if you missed it you where out as well. The only saving grace was they served beer at the ground. As for being happy being a sports fan try supporting Wrexham Fc all your life not many celebrations I can promise you :D
It has always fascinated me as you I think in your replies that some people don’t appreciate things that I find dear and very inspiring. It’s a funny old world.
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Re: Keats / Happiness

Postby BrokenLyre » Mon Jun 01, 2009 10:59 pm

Yes...'tis a funny world. That's why I watch the highlights on ESPN - I don't have time for a game of anything :D
"Come... dry your eyes, for you are life, rarer than a quark and unpredictable beyond the dreams of Heisenberg; the clay in which the forces that shape all things leave their fingerprints most clearly. Dry your eyes... and let's go home."
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Re: Keats / Happiness

Postby riverborn » Wed Jun 03, 2009 1:59 pm

People not getting Keats: I often wonder the same thing myself. There are so many sentimental ideations of his life and works. Moreover his poetry is so dense- every rift loaded with ore- that it invites multiple meanings. Keats poetry also has a way of framing the reader out, almost as if we have to have a key, a mythic psyche that we share with the poet, to begin to understand. Sort of that Keatsian thing of having a feel for dark and light. Even then we are left with the reality that great poetry often gleans its most fundamental meaning at levels deeper that thought. Look at "La Belle"- how are we to understand the striations of meaning in this apparently simple ballad? Is La Belle death, poetry, the limitations of love, or, more fundamentally, the basic and poignant human dilemma of the imagination yearning to take us to places that cannot be sustained? I consider this poem to be one that reflects our deepest instincts of our mortal nature. In the end we are left we something that has a beauty that vastly outstrips the sum of its parts.
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Re: Keats / Happiness

Postby AsphodelElysium » Sat Jun 13, 2009 6:57 am

No, reading Keats' poetry doesn't make me happy. Its deeper than that, more like contentment, satisfaction, and yes, connection (I completely agree with you there BrokenLyre).

I do believe someone has to be passionate or have some semblance of emotional depth to appreciate Keats. True passion, though, has its roots in sadness. I think Keats connected with that and to be able to "get him" one would also have to take that journey.
"Let me not wander in a barren dream,
But, when I am consumed in the fire,
Give me new Phoenix wings to fly at my desire."
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Re: Keats / Happiness

Postby dks » Sat Jun 13, 2009 8:46 pm

What a great question: "do you have to be passionate to enjoy Keats?"

I think the answer is that as long as you have ever let passion course through your veins, then you can glean anything from his work--passion and suffering--basically, if you have lived and allowed the human condition to joyfully assault your senses--then Keats's work will move you inexplicably--any one of his pieces.
"I am certain of nothing but the holiness of the heart's affections and the Truth of Imagination."
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Re: Keats / Happiness

Postby BrokenLyre » Sat Jun 13, 2009 10:00 pm

That's one of the great things about this site - how many times I read all your posts (Malia, Saturn, AE, riverborn & others) and find that you say the things I feel and think - but often better than I can say them. Just a treat folks to be here. Nice to hear again from you dks!
"Come... dry your eyes, for you are life, rarer than a quark and unpredictable beyond the dreams of Heisenberg; the clay in which the forces that shape all things leave their fingerprints most clearly. Dry your eyes... and let's go home."
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Re: Keats / Happiness

Postby AsphodelElysium » Sun Jun 14, 2009 8:10 am

*Sigh* I wish I could convey how happy it makes me to find so many kindred spirits!
"Let me not wander in a barren dream,
But, when I am consumed in the fire,
Give me new Phoenix wings to fly at my desire."
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