Dan Sandman

#9 John Keats

In Books, Fiction, Poetry on 24/02/2017 at 12:00 pm

#9 John Keats.jpgIn his introduction to this concise selection of Keats’ poetry, Andrew Motion argues against the Tory critics of the nineteenth century; who successfully created a long-standing image of Keats as a lower-class poet of little worth. Of course, anybody with a modicum of sense knows this is wrong. John Keats found it difficult to face the barbed criticism of the Tory press, and his poetry does look to delve inside the human psyche; but to say that his poems are less valuable than his peers’ poetry is sheer snobbery and nonsense. Firstly, he died at such a young age, of something which today would be cured by a quick fix of antibiotics, that it is hard to judge how his shyness would have panned out. Unlike Byron, for example, Keats did not seek the life of the doomed poet. Secondly, there is a way of talking about political events without actually referring to them, as Shelley does, directly in the poetry. As Motion points out, Keats wrote To Autumn “shortly after the Peterloo Massacre”.

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