John Keats: Keats is a poet of the second romantic generation. He is Romantic in his relish of sensation, his feeling for the Middle Ages, his love for the Greek civilization and his conception of the writer, but the synthesis he made of all these elements was very much his own.
he was able to fuse the romantic passion and the cold Neo-classicism, just as Ugo Foscolo did in Le Grazie.
He was born in London in 1795 from a humble but confortable family.
Keats soon became an acquaintance of the leading writers and artists of the period, including Percy B. Shelley. In 1818 Endymion, a long, mythological poem, appeared. This was a difficult time for Keats, since his mother and brother died because of TB and his ever-frail health deteriorated rapidly. He also fell in love with Fanny Brawne, but poverty, his bad health and his almost religious pursuit of poetry made marriage impossible.
Keats wrote a series of masterful poems during the following year:
• The Eve of St Agnes, written in Spenserian stanzas
• The great odes, Ode to a Nightingale, Ode on a Grecian Urn, To autumn, Ode on melancholy, To Psyche
• The ballad La Belle Dame sans Merci
In 1820 Keats coughed up blood and the symptoms of consumption became evident. In September of the same year he travelled to Italy in an effort to recover his health but died in Rome in February 1821.
The substance of his poetry: He devoted only a small part of his energies to the chief poetic form of subjective writing. In fact there is deeply felt personal experience behind the odes of 1819; but the significant fact is that this experience is “behind” the odes, not their substance. Moreover, the poetical personal pronoun I doesn’t stand for a human being linked to the events of his time, but for a universal one. Another feature of Keats’s striking departure from the central creed of Romanticism is indicated by his remark:”scenery is fine, but human nature is finer”.
The common Romantic tendency to identify scenes and landscapes with subjective moods and emotions is rarely present in his poetry; it has nothing of the Wordsworthian pantheistic conviction, and no sense of mystery.
The role of Imagination: It was his belief in the supreme value of the Imagination. There are two main forms. In the first place, the orld of his poetry is predominantly artificial, one that he imagines rather than reflects from direct experience. Keats has all the Romantic fondness for the unfamiliar and strange, and for the remote in place and time. In the second place, Keats’s poetry stems from imagination in the sense that his work is a vision of what he would like human life to be like, stimulated by his own experience of pain and misery.