- the LIFE -
John Keats was born in London in 1795; his parents dead before 1810; at the age of fifteen he started his interest for literature; he became an apothecary in 1816, and then he dedicated completely to literature. He got tuberculosis in 1818 during a walking trip in northern England; his brother thus dead ill; in the same year he had another shock due to the attack of conservative magazines & reviews, that defined him a "cockney poet", and still in the same year he felt in love with F. Brawne, that he couldn't marry. It was in the following year (1819) that he composed his greatest works. In 1820, for his ill health, he sailed with his friend the painter J. Severn for Italy (Naples and Rome), where he dead in February 1821 (he was 25).
- the WORKS -
Keats's production can be roughly divided into:
Early minor poems (1816-l7)
Narrative poems (1818-l9)
Prose (including his letters)
- FEATURES and THEMES -
Keats's life was really troubled, and this influenced him and his poems.
Poetry as solace: K. conceived poetry as something Absolute or only reason for life, naturally springing from his inner soul, suggested by Imagination;
Beauty: is the central theme of all his poems and his only consolation; physical beauty was very close to spiritual beauty (the latter is eternal and immortal);
Imagination: recognises Beauty in existing things, but can also create it; it's its creative force and is more powerful than speculative reasoning;
Negative capability: is one of K.'s theories, about the ability to experience uncertainties and doubts without reaching after fact or reason (ex.: the poet as such has no identity);
Ancient Greece: together with poetry meant to him only beauty; it was Keats's inspiration, that he then reinterpreted trough the eyes of a Romantic, like in his "Ode on a Grecian Urn";
Nature: was another Keats's source of inspiration; unlike Wordsworth, K. didn't see any "Mighty Power" or God in it, it was only another form of beauty, and his imagination was enough to enrich it.
Middle Ages: was the third great source of Keats's poetry (for legend, magic and supernatural), reinterpreted trough the eyes of a Romantic, like in his "La Belle Dame Sans Merci".
- the INFLUENCE -
By exalting Beauty, K. became an inspiration to the English 19th-century poets; he became an idol of many writers (also of O. Wilde). But we've to remember that for K. Beauty was not only an aesthetic concept, but a moral one, a source of good and consolation which could communicate the joy of life itself.