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John Keats (1795-1821). John Keats – Biographical Information - “John Keats was an English poet who became one of the key poets of the English Romantic.

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Presentation on theme: "John Keats (1795-1821). John Keats – Biographical Information - “John Keats was an English poet who became one of the key poets of the English Romantic."— Presentation transcript:

1 John Keats ( )

2 John Keats – Biographical Information - “John Keats was an English poet who became one of the key poets of the English Romantic movement during the early nineteenth century.” “John Keats was an English poet who became one of the key poets of the English Romantic movement during the early nineteenth century.” ( accessed on 02/06/09) “In his brief creative career, brought to an end at twenty-five by his death from tuberculosis, Keats produced some of the greatest and most enduring poems of the English language.” “In his brief creative career, brought to an end at twenty-five by his death from tuberculosis, Keats produced some of the greatest and most enduring poems of the English language.” (York Notes Advanced)

3 Keats as a Prototype Keats is considered as the original prototype of the tragic, idealised artist who lives a short life and leaves behind a substantial and influential body of creative work. Keats is considered as the original prototype of the tragic, idealised artist who lives a short life and leaves behind a substantial and influential body of creative work. ACTIVITY 1: Pop-culture is full of these tragic geniuses, make a list of at least five of these figures drawn from the diverse worlds of music, art and literature.

4 Central Ideas in Keats's Poetry INFLUENTIAL EVENTS “Before he turned fifteen Keats has lost his parents, an infant brother, an uncle and his grandfather. His apprenticeship with a surgeon and his training at Guy’s Hospital exposed him to every kind of human suffering. He nursed his brother Tom until he died of tuberculosis, so was well aware of the implications of its symptoms that he himself experienced in the following four years which preceded his early death”. “Before he turned fifteen Keats has lost his parents, an infant brother, an uncle and his grandfather. His apprenticeship with a surgeon and his training at Guy’s Hospital exposed him to every kind of human suffering. He nursed his brother Tom until he died of tuberculosis, so was well aware of the implications of its symptoms that he himself experienced in the following four years which preceded his early death”. (Byron, p. 67)

5 Central Ideas in Keats's Poetry PERMANENCE & MUTABILITY (TIME) Therefore it is not surprising that Keats was concerned with the paradox of permanence and mutability*. Therefore it is not surprising that Keats was concerned with the paradox of permanence and mutability*. (mutability* – subject to change) At the centre of his vision “is the paradox that an awareness of mortality increases one’s sense of beauty. Mortal life becomes more valued the more one experiences its fragility and transience.” (Byron, p. 67-8) At the centre of his vision “is the paradox that an awareness of mortality increases one’s sense of beauty. Mortal life becomes more valued the more one experiences its fragility and transience.” (Byron, p. 67-8)

6 Central Ideas in Keats's Poetry IMAGINATION & TRANSCENDENCE His concerns with permanence and mutability are also inter-linked with his vision of the imagination. His concerns with permanence and mutability are also inter-linked with his vision of the imagination. Keats sees “[t]he imagination providing a link between the real and the ideal. It allows us to transcend our ‘mortal bars’, to have a transcendent vision of the joys of immortal existence.” (Byron, p. 68) Keats sees “[t]he imagination providing a link between the real and the ideal. It allows us to transcend our ‘mortal bars’, to have a transcendent vision of the joys of immortal existence.” (Byron, p. 68)

7 Reading Keats's Sonnets

8 ‘When I have fears that I may cease to be’ When I have fears that I may cease to be Before my pen has glean'd my teeming brain, Before high piled Books, in charact’ry, Hold like rich garners the full-ripen'd grain; When I behold, upon the night's starr'd 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; And when I feel, fair creature of an hour! That I shall never look upon thee more, Never have relish in the faery power Of unreflecting love! — then on the shore Of the wide world I stand alone, and think Till Love and Fame to Nothingness do sink.

9 ‘Bright Star’ Bright star, would I were stedfast as thou art— Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night, And watching, with eternal lids apart, Like nature's patient, sleepless Eremite, The moving waters at their priestlike task Of pure ablution round earth's human shores, Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask Of snow upon the mountains and the moors - No—yet still stedfast, still unchangeable, Pillow'd upon my fair love's ripening breast, To feel for ever its soft fall and swell, Awake for ever in a sweet unrest, Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath, And so live ever—or else swoon to death -

10 Reading Keats's Sonnets ACTIVITY 2: 1. What key ideas to do you see as being shared between these two sonnets? Find quotations to support your point of view. 2. Now, carefully annotate each poem using the 10 Step Analysis Grid as a source of direction. Have you considered these techniques as you read Keats’s sonnets?  Subject Matter  Key Ideas (purpose)  Tone (emotion/ mood)  Techniques  Structure  Sensory Appeal  Language  Imagery  Rhythm (movement)  Sounds

11 The Sonnet Form “A poem of 14 lines. Two earliest forms of the sonnet are the Petrachan and the Elizabethan (as used by Shakespeare and Donne)….Many sonnets have a volta (or turn of thought) at the end of line 8. Some, for example, the Elizabethans, have a rhyming couplet at the end”. (Page, p. 334) “A poem of 14 lines. Two earliest forms of the sonnet are the Petrachan and the Elizabethan (as used by Shakespeare and Donne)….Many sonnets have a volta (or turn of thought) at the end of line 8. Some, for example, the Elizabethans, have a rhyming couplet at the end”. (Page, p. 334) Keats’s sonnets are usually structured into 3 quatrains (of four lines each) followed by rhyming couplet. Keats’s sonnets are usually structured into 3 quatrains (of four lines each) followed by rhyming couplet. The rhyme scheme of such a sonnet is abab, cdcd, efef for the three quatrains and then gg for the final couplet. The rhyme scheme of such a sonnet is abab, cdcd, efef for the three quatrains and then gg for the final couplet.

12 ‘When I have fears that I may cease to be’ When I have fears that I may cease to be Before my pen has glean'd my teeming brain, Before high piled Books, in charact’ry, Hold like rich garners the full-ripen'd grain; When I behold, upon the night's starr'd 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; And when I feel, fair creature of an hour! That I shall never look upon thee more, Never have relish in the faery power Of unreflecting love! — then on the shore Of the wide world I stand alone, and think Till Love and Fame to nothingness do sink. SUBJECT: The poet is expressing his fears that death will deny him fulfilment.

13 ‘When I have fears that I may cease to be’ - Quatrain 1 - When I have fears that I may cease to be Before my pen has glean'd my teeming brain, Before high piled Books, in charact’ry*, Hold like rich garners the full-ripen'd grain; SUBJECT: Keats instantly announces his concerns with the transient nature of his own life. He fears that he may die before he has written all the poems he wants too. charact’ry* - writing IMAGERY: Keats employs the imagery of farming corn to describe the act of writing. He is comparing it to reaping a rich harvest.

14 ‘When I have fears that I may cease to be’ - Quatrain 2 - When I behold, upon the night's starr'd 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; REPETITION: Throughout the poem, the words “When” and “And” are repeated in the quatrains linking each section of the poem and giving the sonnet a sense of continuity. SUBJECT: In the second quatrain, Keats expands upon these fears with a specific reference that he may never trace all the “high romance” he sees symbolised in the heavens. STRUCTURE: Keats’s use of the sonnet structure is very traditional in this poem. Each line is clearly end-stopped as it coincides with the end of an idea or clause.

15 ‘When I have fears that I may cease to be’ - Quatrain 3 - And when I feel, fair creature of an hour! That I shall never look upon thee more, Never have relish in the faery power Of unreflecting love! — then on the shore SUBJECT: In the third quatrain he addresses a woman whom he met in a brief encounter to consider what he may also be prevented from ever experiencing love. REPETITION: of “And” clearly links this quatrain to the one before. TONE: is light. IMAGERY: helps to create the final central image, and leads into the couplet.

16 ‘When I have fears that I may cease to be’ Final Rhyming Couplet Of the wide world I stand alone, and think Till love and fame to nothingness do sink. SUBJECT: “The poet presents an image of himself standing alone on the shore of the wide world with a all personal ambitions and concerns erased from his mind by the immensity of what he contemplates.” (Byron, p. 18) TONE: of these last two lines is much heavier then the lightness suggested by the “faery creature” earlier on. KEY IDEAS: Keats is questioning the permanency of his own existence and whether his death will deny him fulfilment.

17 ‘Bright Star’ This is a less conventional sonnet then ‘When I have fears that I may cease to be’ This is a less conventional sonnet then ‘When I have fears that I may cease to be’ Keats is addressing a star as a symbol of the permanence he desires. Keats is addressing a star as a symbol of the permanence he desires. This sonnet is traditionally associated with Fanny Brawne, the great love of Keats’s life, who he was never able to marry due to his poor health. This sonnet is traditionally associated with Fanny Brawne, the great love of Keats’s life, who he was never able to marry due to his poor health. The sonnet is a extended sentence with a difficult syntax in which Keats explores the tension between the cold, permanent star and his mutable, but warm love. The sonnet is a extended sentence with a difficult syntax in which Keats explores the tension between the cold, permanent star and his mutable, but warm love. Fanny Brawne

18 ‘Bright Star’ Octave (set of eight lines) Bright star, would I were stedfast as thou art— Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night, And watching, with eternal lids apart, Like nature's patient, sleepless Eremite, The moving waters at their priestlike task Of pure ablution round earth's human shores, Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask Of snow upon the mountains and the moors - STRUCTURE/ IMAGERY: The octave focuses on the image of a bright star that is traditionally a symbol of permanence. The poet envies the star and its “steadfastness”. However the star is portrayed as a cold, remote observer of the “earth’s human shores”. The words highlighted in pink help create this impression. This technique is called an APOSTROPHE (a figure of speech) in which a poet addresses an absent or inanimate sprit or force – in this case, a star.

19 ‘Bright Star’ Sestet (set of six lines) No—yet still stedfast, still unchangeable, Pillow'd upon my fair love's ripening breast, To feel for ever its soft fall and swell, Awake for ever in a sweet unrest, Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath, And so live ever—or else swoon to death - STRUCTURE/ SUBJECT: The beginning of this sestet in the second half of the sonnet is a classic VOLTA (turn of thought). Keats signals this change through the choice of ‘No’. Keats is rejecting the permanency of the cold, aloof star for his “fair love”. SOUND/ TONE: The alliteration and assonance of this lines adds to the tone of tenderness. REPETITION: of “still” links the beginning of the sestet with final rhyming couplet. This RHYMING COUPLET is particularly effective due to the striking contrast between “breath” and “death”. KEY IDEAS: In this final sestet, the paradox of the permanent, beautiful star compared to the transient, living beauty of his fair love is exposed. For the poet to continue experiencing his love he must be “awake for ever in sweet unrest…or else swoon to death” and permanency.

20 REFERENCES Page, Geoff. 80 Great Poems: From Chaucer to Now. UNSW Press, Byron, Glennis. John Keats – Selected Poems. (York Notes Advanced), CUP, 2006


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