One of the most important ingredients of romantic poetry is passionate love for beauty. Every poet in one way or the other is a lover of beauty. John Milton was a good lover of beauty as well as religion. William Wordsworth finds beauty only in nature. However, John Keats is different from them. He does not only like beauty but also quests for it. He also takes interest in Greeks art in order to pursue beauty which is also called John Keats’ Hellenism. Keats is of the view that everything which touches the senses is beautiful. Besides being the poet of nature, John Keats is also called a poet of beauty and sensuousness. Art, birds’ songs, forests, clouds, skies, seasons, in fact, every element either natural or unnatural, is beautiful in his eyes. He finds it even in truth, the song of the nightingale and also in the Grecian urn.
Earlier Poems Vs. Later Poems of John Keats:
John Keats in his earlier poems found beauty only in natural objects such as clouds, skies, forests etc. In later poems, his approach is something extraordinary. The recent poetry of John Keats seems mature. He talks about universal beauty. For instance, the autumn season is beautiful for him. Similarly, the song of the nightingale is joyful. Greek art also gives him pleasure. He also mentions beauty in immortality. When other poets criticize the autumn season, John Keats seeks beauty in it. Everything is joyful for him though it depends on his mood. It is because he appreciates beauty and finds beauty in everything even in melancholy. Thus, his attitude is entirely different in his latter poems.
John Keats as Poet of Sensuous Beauty:
Another important thing about John Keats is that he always talks about sensuous beauty. His poetry touches the senses of readers. The song of the nightingale can be listened; the Grecian urn can be seen; the autumn season can be felt; flowers can be smelled. Readers not only read the poetry of John Keats but also feel it.
Being a pure and romantic poet, John Keats considers his duty to pursue beauty. That’s why Shelly calls him the best romantic poet of his era. He is the last romantic poet but the best among them because of his attitude towards sensuous beauty.
Comparison Between Melancholy and Beauty:
Art is beautiful and everlasting in the eyes of John Keats. He takes an example of a sculpture and proves that its beauty will never fade. Furthermore, he is famous for putting melancholy and beauty in juxtaposition. He provides evidence to prove that melancholy dwells with beauty. He experienced suffering in life and also felt every pain because he lived a hard and short life. As a result, he gained experience. He acknowledged that beauty could never be separated from melancholy.
Many examples are there in his work, from which, readers witness an appreciation of beauty. Hyperion is the best example of it. It is full of a gloomy atmosphere even then John Keats being a poet of beauty does not leave any chance to appreciate it. His famous poem “Ode to Nightingale” has been referred to many times. This poem can be used to exemplify any element of romantic poetry but for this purpose, its significance is praiseworthy. Likewise, starting lines of “Endymion” strengthen the assertion that poet John Keats is a passionate lover of beauty. He writes: “A thing of beauty is a joy forever”. In fact, every poem of John Keats proves that he is a passionate lover of allurement.
John Keats was a pure poet, therefore, beauty was a good subject for him to write poetry. He chooses it because he feels it. He finds it in everything. In his letter to Amy Lowell, he wrote:-
“I am certain of nothing but of the holiness of heart’s affections and the truth of imagination. What the imagination seizes as Beauty must be truth whether it existed before or not. For I have the same idea of all our passions as of love, they are all in their sublime, creative of essential beauty….”John Keats in his letter to Amy Lowell,
Poet John Keats Creates His Own World of Beauty:
We are well aware of the fact that John Keats’ life was full of pains and worries even then he thinks life is a gift not because it is perfect but because he is bestowed with good imaginative powers. This world may not be perfect for him but the perfect and beautiful world lies in his mind. His strong imagination helps him in this regard. He creates a world of his own free from the pains and worries of life. Truth, in his eyes, is beauty and beauty is truth, which is enough for him. He identifies beauty simultaneously with the truth. In his view, each object and every element as well as thought is beautiful. Many of us cry that life is painful but Keats says; it depends on the person, and how he sees the world. It is, therefore, he agrees with Plato that “Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder”.
John Keats’ Hellenism:
John Keats’ Hellenism is also famous. He takes interest in Greek arts. The poetry of John Keats shares Greek themes. Shelly called John Keats a poet of Greeks due to his excessive interest in Greek art. When a translated copy of the Iliad was provided to him, he experienced Greeks wit. He tried to follow them. Resultantly, he wrote “Hyperion” though he could not complete it. Most of the poems of John Keats share either medieval or Greek themes. John Keats’ unending love for Greek arts is called his Hellenism.
John Keats is called a romantic poet because he pursued beauty his whole life. He has found it and has also shown it to the world. His imagination helps him to underestimate the pain and overestimate beauty. It is not wrong to say that a joyful moment of John Keats’ life is that when he feels beauty and talks about it. John Keats’ whole work is based on pursuance of beauty, therefore, it can be concluded in the following lines:-
“Beauty is Truth and Truth Beauty, -that is all.
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know."
Write a brief note on the following:
- John Keats as Poet of Beauty.
- John Keat’s Hellenism