Literary Shelf

Irreverent Criticism of John Keats

John Keats (1795-1821), one of the greatest Romantic poets who is often compared with Shakespeare due to his phrases charged with a great intensity of imagination, was vehemently criticized by John Gibson Lockhart in Blackwoods Magazine:

“The phrenzy of the "Poems" was bad enough in its way; but it did not alarm us half so seriously as the calm, settled, imperturbable drivelling  idiocy of Endymion.”

This vituperative and utterly irreverent  criticism was quite unjustified.  We should not  forget  that Keats wrote some of the greatest  odes, comparable to nothing except Shakespeare’s  greatest poetry . One example is the concluding lines of Ode on a Grecian Urn" 'Beauty is truth, truth beauty' - that is all / you know on earth, and all ye need to know". Keats is a Shakespearean poet due to his  'negative capability'.  Keats himself remarks about this 'negativecapability':

"Several things dovetailed in my mind, and at once it struck me, what quality went to form a Man of Achievement especially in Literature and which Shakespeare posessed  so enormously—I mean Negative Capability, that is when man is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact & reason."

The following lines by Keats leave no doubt that he submitted himself steadily, persistently, unflinchingly to life:

Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;
Not to the sensual ear, but, more ...
Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone:

The fact is that Keats was more interested in sensations than ideas. he is one of the rare poets who makes us realize the oneness of Beauty and Truth. For him, the sense of Beauty overcame any other consideration.

According to several critics,  this condemnation of his poetry pained the poet so much that he died. We may always remember that the soul of Keats was made of iron and flint.  An abusive article can never be the cause of  the  death of  a powerful  poet like  Keats. Byron’s comment that Keats “ was snuffed out of an article” is  far from truth.


More by :  Dr. Santosh Kumar

Top | Literary Shelf

Views: 3670      Comments: 1

Comment A great Poet like John Keats can't be slain by an irrelevant fault finding criticism as Lord Byron says !

T A Ramesh
04-Jun-2021 02:17 AM

Name *

Email ID

Comment *
Verification Code*

Can't read? Reload

Please fill the above code for verification.