Keats and Romanticism

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Romanticism was a response to the mechanistic view and rationalism of its predecessor, “The Age of Reason”, as well as a reaction to the French and Industrial Revolutions. Inspired by what Wordsworth(Prelude 161-166) recalls as “an hour of universal ferment” the Romantics emerged in the form of Artists and Poets who differed away from the urbanization and rationality of mainstream society, and placed emphasis on the aesthetics of nature, the individual and the imagination. Among these revolutionaries was young poet, John Keats, whose life and career were both short-lived and prone to tragedy. The death of both parents, onset of tuberculosis and intense relationship with Fanny Brawne are but few among the series of realities that haunted him until his premature death in 1821. Despite the hardships that the young poet faced, he found consolation in the Romantic ideals, often borrowed from contemporaries and mentors such as Wordsworth and Coleridge, which established themselves in his thoughts and claimed significance within his poetry. In April and May 1819, two years before his death, Keats wrote six ‘Odes’, including the odes: ‘to Psyche’, ‘to a Grecian Urn’ and ‘to Melancholy’; that would stand out in history as one of the most magnificent collections of Romantic poetry from the 18th Century. The first of Keats ‘Odes’ written in spring 1918,‘Ode to Psyche’ is described by Keats himself to be; the first and only one with which I have taken even moderate pains; I have, for the most part, dashed off my lines in a hurry; this one I have done leisurely; I think it reads the more richly for it, and it will I hope encourage me to write other things in even a more peaceable and healthy spirit. (Keats letters, 1918) The Ode is a dedication to the imagination as well as an affirmation of Keats intention to become a “psychological poet” (Jones, 104). Keats’ combined use
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