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Material Sublime In John Keats Poem

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 899 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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It is known that John Keats, the famous English poet is a representative of English Romantic movement in literature that appeared at the turn of XIX century. Although there were three main trends of this Romantic movement such as Lake Poets, revolutionary romanticists and London romanticists, John Keats, a lyrical poet who touches upon the sublime theme of love, beauty and art belongs to London romanticists. Due to his progressive political beliefs he is close to Byron and Shelly and his sermon on “pure art” made him a protagonist of Lake poets. The theme of material sublime appears in many of his poems. I’d like to turn to his poem Epistle to John Hamilton Reynolds which is devoted to J.H. Reynolds, an English poet and his friend. My goal in my essay is to analyze the above mentioned poem. I’d like to start with the theme shown up in the poem. Then I’ll speak about some literary devices the author used in his work.

In conclusion of my essay, I’ll summarize the main points and express my personal opinion.

The first twelve lines of the poem which start with the words “Dear Reynolds, as last I lay in bed” tell us that Keats is going to tell his friend about his “shapes, and shadows, and remembrances” which came before his eyes. These images are not connected with each other. Among them are “two Witch’s eyes above a Cherub’s mouth” and “Old Socrates atying his cravat” and other. He says that few people could “escape these visiting” – those whose “lives have patent wings” and whose “curtains peeps no hellish nose”. These people have quite another dreams including “flowers bursting out with lusty pride” and “the milk-white heifer lows”. Comparing these lines we understand that the author puts on the first place scenes of nature, admiring its beauty and simplicity. It is his way of thinking. He is a romanticist that is why everything he is going to describe in his poem will be associated with nature. To prove this fact I’d like to turn to the next lines of his poem where Keats gives a nice description of “the Enchanted Castle” which stands on the rock, “nested in trees”. Keats wants “to show this castle in fair dreaming wise” to his sick friend who lies in bed. The author recalls some other places which are dare to him: Merlin Hall, the Clear Lake and “the little Isles”. They are “half animate”, they look alive. Keats speaks about them as if they have souls, as if they can feel and “love and hate”, “smile and frown”. He sees “a golden Galley” which comes in silence to the Castle wall. He hears “an echo from of sweet music”. These scenes described by the author in such a way help the readers to understand his world perception. He is sure that all the colors of his dreams are taken “from the sunset”, “from something of material sublime” but not from the “shadow” of our “own souls day-time”. The author philosophizes about the main point of life. He is sure that he will never be awarded for “the love of good and ill”. He says that “things cannot to the will be settled”, but they can “tease us out of thought”. He states that “it is a flaw in happiness, to see beyond our bounds”. As a result of our such a wide-reaching imagination we mourn. It cannot refer to “the standard of law”. At the end of the poem Keats tells “a mysterious tale” about his feelings. Although he was “at home and should have been most happily” but he could see “too far into the sea”, he saw “an eternal fierce destruction”. And that was the thing he did not like. He sends off “horrid moods” such as “the Hawk at pounce” or “the Shark at savage prey”. He hates them. So, the author considers that everything material around him is more sublime than his feelings. The author uses a lot of stylistic devices which make his speech vivid. Let’s take, for example, epithets:

hellish, enchanted, Old Magic-like Sword, sacred, mossy,horrid and other epithets which give good characteristics to the nouns they refer to. Among the metaphors are the following:

Things all disjointed come from north and south…

…whose lives had patent wings…

Thro’ curtains peeps no hellish nose…

…echo of sweet music…

It is a flaw in happiness…

Inversion: For in the world we jostle..

Simile: …silver flash of light…like a beauteous woman’s large blue eyes…

Antithesis: there do they look alive to love and hate, to smiles and frowns…

Comparison: they seem a lifted mound above some giant, pulsing underground.

These are only several stylistic devices used in the poem. There are a great deal of other ones. The speech of the poet is bright and nice.

In conclusion, I should say that I was greatly impressed by this poem and other Keats poems which I have already read. The theme of material sublime is shown by the author in a proper way.


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