John Keats World Literature Analysis
Keats was a poet, and it is in his poetry that he gave the fullest expression to his genius. Yet before turning to the poetry, it may be useful first to address some of the central concerns of the poet, as expressed in his various letters to family and friends. It is in these letters, for example, that he tried to articulate his philosophies of art and life, asking and answering such questions as, What is the true character of a poet? What is the proper role of the poet in society? What is the relationship between art and life? and What is the function of the imagination?
In his letter of October 27, 1818, to Richard Woodhouse, a friend and supporter, Keats offers one of his earliest attempts to define what a poet is. Keats begins by declaring that a poet has no self or identity. A poet, like a chameleon, absorbs the colorations of the outside world, becoming one with the things seen, heard, and touched. Keats’s point is that, for poets to comprehend their subjects fully, to enter into the life of things around them, they must free themselves from their own limited experiences of the world—their own biases, emotions, and points of view—and merge with that which they hope to understand and describe. This sympathetic understanding, as opposed to a reasoned understanding, depends not upon logic or even intellect but rather upon imagination. Through the imagination, then, the poet is projected into the subject and lives according to its essential...
(The entire section is 3173 words.)
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