Wednesday, 8 May 2013

"A thing of beauty is a joy forever" - Why Keats is the best of the Romantic poets

Julie Andrews first immortalised Keats' Endymion for me as Mary Poppins.  "A thing of beauty is a joy forever".  And in that moment I think I was fated to love Keats' poetry - goodness knows I loved Mary Poppins with an obsession that only a pre-schooler can.  But as for Keats himself, I think I would have loved him even if I didn't know of his and Fanny Brawne's tragic love story.

I do remember reading La Belle Dame sans Merci during my second year of university.  There was something haunting about its simplicity that appealed to the sensibilities of a young literature student.

But when I read Keats now it's all I can do to even breathe.  It is good poetry, and good poetry binds together pure unadulterated feeling with winning combinations of words.

And I know that when I am old, I will love him even more.  That is why Keats is the best of the Romantic poets.

When I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has gleaned my teeming brain,
Before high-piled books, in charact'ry,
Hold like rich garners the full-ripen'd grain;
When I behold, upon the night's starr'd face,
Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
And think that I may never live to trace
Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance;
And when I feel, fair creature of an hour!
That I shall never look upon thee more,
Never have relish in the faery power
Of unreflecting love!—then on the shore
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think
Till Love and Fame to nothingness do sink.

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