John Keats Questions and Answers

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Please comment upon John Keats' poetic style and his sensuousness.

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A lush sensuosity is a common element in Keats's poetry. One thinks of the way he lovingly describes the joys and fruits of nature in "Ode to Autumn," or the hazy reverie of the speaker in "Ode to a Nightingale" as he sits beneath a luscious green bower contemplating the bird's joyful song.

Yet Keats is more than just a nature poet. Throughout his work, he establishes a dialectic between the worlds of sense and imagination. The beauties of nature always point beyond this world to another, higher world, timeless and ethereal. In "Ode to a Nightingale," for example, the bird's sweet, melodious song, though one of the great joys of nature, is also eternal; its transcendent music has endured throughout several millennia and will continue to do so.

In this poem as elsewhere, Keats essentially occupies two different worlds simultaneously. Indeed, one might argue that any artist worthy of the name does so. He is very much in the here and now, the everyday world that we all inhabit. And the contours of this world, rendered by Keats with such consummate skill, are characterized by nature in all its fullness and rich vitality. But at the same time, Keats lives, moves, and has his being, in a world of imagination. And it is this imagination of his, so extraordinarily fertile, that combined with the sensuous delights of nature, creates such unforgettable poetry.

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coachingcorner eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The  poetry of John Keats actually comprises two 'styles' the earlier and the later. When we talk about 'later' with this poet however, it is astonishing to remember that we never got to see the full benefit of his maturity as a poet as he died shockingly young at only twenty five. Nevertheless, the style of his poetry was already beginning to take shape, and develop from it's early Cockney style - the time period we will think about here.

Keats' early poetry style was not much admired - it was thought too  sensitive, sensuous, without depth and simplistic. Later his style would become more political  and would postulate theories about poetic imagination and "negative capability". From a juvenile naivete, his poetry developed apace, hastening from the colloquial Cockney style to his more profound pieces like Hyperion, The Fall of Hyperion,  later odes; and ideas about women. Endymion from 1818 displays the development of poetic maturity yet still shows  use of colloquialisms, and his sensuous style.