12/30/2018

John Keats as a poet of Beauty.


“A thing of beauty is joy forever”. -- Keats was a worshipper of beauty. Beauty overcomes every other consideration in him. To make beauty was the only purpose of his art. The basic principles of his personal religion were 'the principle of beauty’, and the ‘wisdom of virtue’. Adoration of beauty was his only guide top conduct and the only means of discovering the truth. The idea of the unity of all beauty comes out in many crucial passages. He worshipped beauty; the beauty he adored was not intellectual but visible, tangible and audiable beauty.

Keats was extraordinarily endowed with a native-gift- that of feeling actually with his senses. All his five senses reacted quickly to the beauties of the extra world, and these senses impressions are transmitted into poetry by his imagination. In “Ode to Autumn”, he describes the sensuous of beauty of the season:

“Season of mist and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bossom friend of maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruits the vines that round the thatch-eves run”

Again Keats is very exquisite in giving descriptive pictures, even when they are mere enumerations, transforming them by his art into immortal poetry:

“I cannot see what flowers are at my feet;
Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs,
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The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine,
The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves.”

To Keats, beauty and truth are identical. For, to see things in their beauty is to see them in their truth, and Keats knew it. In “Ode on a Grecian Urn” imagination reveals to the poet the beauty, which is beyond the senses:

“Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
Are sweeter…………………….”

So imagination reveals a new aspect of beauty, which is “sweeter” than the beauty, which is perceptible to the senses. Thus, in the world of ours “where but to think is to be full of sorrow”, Beauty alone survives; so he sings in his “Ode on a Grecian Urn”:

“Beauty is truth, truth beauty, that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know”.

In his odes, Keats also points out the transient nature of beauty. He is conscious that he lives in a “world where beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes”. He pines that beauty is short lived. This very thought makes him melancholy. Hence, he associates beauty with melancholy.   For Keats, the radiance of the morning dew bathed in pearl dew, the glory of the peonies, the peerless eyes of his lady love are all instinct with subtle suggestions of sadness. Thus he links the spirit of melancholy to beauty and to joy, because beauty endures but for a passing hour, and melancholy, he knew:

“.........dwells with beauty-- beauty that must die,
And joy, whose hand is over at his lips
Bidding adieu.”

Keats was an impeccable artist. He helps us realize the ultimate oneness of truth and beauty. He has given us many things of “beauty and joy forever”. The beauty he loved-- loved intensely and passionately, was something far above sensuousness, something, which himself was inspired to claim as being one with truth and transcending the senses.

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