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Why is John Keats believed to be a visionary poet?

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juca88 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 2, 2011 at 8:55 AM via web

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Why is John Keats believed to be a visionary poet?

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profsuperplum | College Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 2, 2011 at 12:07 PM (Answer #1)

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In 1961, voted literary scholar Harold Bloom first published, The Visionary Company: A Reading of English Romantic Poetry, Revised and Enlarged Edition, a book on the major and a few minor romantic poets, including the so-called big six Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, P.B. Shelley, Byron and Keats.  Bloom makes the argument that these poets create a new mythology for their time by blending the visionary work of imagination exercised with nature in full mental view. (Bloom's book is likely the inspiration behind the question that you need to answer.)

 

Keats in particular embraced the historical meaning of poet as prophet, or visionary.  (The words for poet and prophet are the same in Hebrew; exploiting this overlap is a standard practice in English poetry.)

 

Perhaps the best statement of this position is in Keats's "Ode to Psyche," address to Psyche, one of the latecomers to the Greek pantheon of gods and goddesses.  He laments that her late arrival meant that she lacked the forms of praise that the other gods enjoyed: prayers, music, temples, and poetry. Psyche lacks her own poets who are true believers: she has no "pale-mouthed prophet dreaming" on her behalf.  Keats returns to this description of the poet, "pale-mouthed prophet dreaming" in order to declare that he will take on this role, he will become the visionary priest who writes in praise of this goddess.  He will build Phoebe a temple in his mind, where he can complete the vision with music, flowers, light, and love.

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