Keats - Poetic Maturity - Your views!?

Discussion on the works of John Keats.

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Keats - Poetic Maturity - Your views!?

Postby tfairbairn » Fri Oct 16, 2009 11:57 am

Hi, long time fan of Keats here, first time user.

Does anyone have any views on the poetic maturity of our friend Junkets?!

It seems to me that, despite his unfortunately short life, he grew a lot in his 25 years and his poems and letters demonstrate this. I am writing a thesis and have never been in doubt over who my subject will be. I feel that he has somewhat unfairly been dubbed as a very effeminate poet, the transition that he makes from his earlier works (which I understand are rather of this nature), through Endymion to the great Odes surely earning him more respect than this?! The use of language has a noticable change, and his realization of negative capability and the mansion of many apartments amongst other things is awe inspiring!?

I would love to hear some of the perspectives that the seasoned, avid Keats fans on here have about the development and passage that his life and works take.

Regards & Thanks


"Philosophy will clip an angel's wings"

Re: Keats - Poetic Maturity - Your views!?

Postby Malia » Fri Oct 16, 2009 2:46 pm

Hi Tom, great to see you on the forum :) First I must ask, have you decided what your thesis statement will be? I'm curious to know!
Second, as far as Keats's poetic development is concerned, I totally agree--in the five or six years from his first known poem (I suppose you could call it his "juvenilea" (sp?) ) to his final feat of To Autumn, he matures leaps and bounds. I don't claim to know all the reasons why and how this leap happened, but I think it was partly due to his intense study (Keats worked his kiester off studying--and often makes reference to his desire to study in order to learn his craft); partly due to his inner drive to get something done before his death (he was haunted by the prospect of an early death and so, I think, felt spurred on to work intensely toward his goal of writing a few good poems before it ceased--I'm paraphrasing Keats, there ;)); and last I would have to add that he possessed a certain amount of talent, perhaps even genius, that enabled him to work and learn quickly. I don't think Keats had just an ordinary sensibility--he seemed hyper-sensitive to bodily sensation, extremely empathetic to the people and environment around him, and more able than the average person to translate that sensation and empathy (and his philosophy about life) into words--be they poetry or in his letters.

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Re: Keats - Poetic Maturity - Your views!?

Postby Sid13 » Fri Oct 16, 2009 8:40 pm

The most amazing aspect of Keats's development was its ever increasing acceleration. The growth from his first poems in, I think, 1814 to his first book in 1817 was nothing extraordinary. But within the next year he progressed through Endymion to Hyperion. And then he wrote almost all his best poems in just nine months, from January through September 1819.

His early work has a boyish naivete about it, which he didn't outgrow until his final year of actively writing. While I don't want to associate myself with the sado-masochistic cult of the Artist as Suffering Martyr, I think the many disappointments of his later life, George's emigration, the hostile reviews, Tom's death, his love for Fanny (which counts as both a positive and a negative experience), his deepening financial woes, and his declining health were necessary factors in his achieving what he did in the limited time allowed him.
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Re: Keats - Poetic Maturity - Your views!?

Postby AsphodelElysium » Tue Oct 20, 2009 4:54 am

I agree that we, as a modern audience, can see Keats' mature progression in his poems (I really have nothing to add as I agree with the previous responses). However, it is strange that the reviewers of his time considered his writing to be juvenile. It might be interesting to trace the thought of Keats' maturity down the line and see where he stopped being perceived as a "wannabe" and was considered a serious poet? Maybe, just a thought.
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Re: Keats - Poetic Maturity - Your views!?

Postby wallflower » Thu Oct 22, 2009 5:50 pm

wow thats an interesting angle to take :) i too am going to write my thesis on Keats, though im nowhere near a final statement :?

anyways, the previous posters have pretty much answered your question.. i believe that keats may have strated out as an innocent romantic poet, but as his life progresses and disappointments pile up he suddenly blossoms into a perfect balance between giddy romanticism and bitterness. i dont have any texts handy right now, but im thinking of fall of hyperion where keats, poetically and generally mature as he is finds that it would be a better move to live in the mutable present rather than gravitate to his permanent bower of imagination.. this is a realization also made in grecian urn and nightingale, if im not mistaken :)
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Re: Keats - Poetic Maturity - Your views!?

Postby wallflower » Thu Nov 05, 2009 7:28 pm

I'm sorry for double posting but i found an amazing essay that reminded me of this question:

this is its abstract:
While Keats's early publications were frequently derided by contemporary reviewers as puerile, the ode 'To Autumn' elicited generally approving comments. Indeed, the poem raised hopes in conservative quarters that Keats had, at last, 'grown up'. According to more recent critical orthodoxy, 'To Autumn' is regarded as having achieved a supreme, unimpeachable maturity. The overwhelming majority of scholarly addresses to the poem praise its poise and steadiness as it moves, resignedly, towards finality and closure. Countering such readings, I argue that 'To Autumn' actually represents one of Keats's most sustained and piercing attacks on the logic of mature power.

i hope you find it useful :)
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Re: Keats - Poetic Maturity - Your views!?

Postby Raphael » Tue Nov 10, 2009 5:01 pm

I did wonder what Junkets meant at first now I know! :D

This is Keats's signature, including his nickname 'Junkets', from a letter to Leigh Hunt, 10 May 1817. It was Hunt who dubbed Keats 'Junkets' due to the poet's Cockney(ish) pronunciation of his name.

I presume it means John's name- that seems to me to indicate he spoke fast.

I don't think his work was immature at all- what is wrong with the celebration of youth, truth, nature and beauty? I think people were jealous of his talent and miffed that he wasn't some poncy lord.John showed deep insights for a young man and I think he had hit upon spiritual truths.I was reading some of his letters last night and I was awed by his insights into the Mystery, philosphies and intellect. The one about the chambers and human existence was extraordinary. For such a young man he was very mature to have had such realisations. did not live to see-
who we are because of what you left,
what it is we are in what we make of you.

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