Poems W/ Relation Between Human and Nature

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Poems W/ Relation Between Human and Nature

Postby GearShifter » Fri Sep 22, 2006 8:48 pm

Hi all,

My English ISP (Independent Study Project) for this year is an essay based on John Keats. My topic is:

Examine the relationship between humans and nature in the poetry of John Keats.

Can anybody give me some guidlines as to which poems I should consider? The minimum number of poems is three for this essay.

Thanks for your help.
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Postby Malia » Fri Sep 22, 2006 9:18 pm

Oh my goodness, you can take almost *any* Keats poem and find a relationship between humans and nature. . .that's one of the core "issues" of Romantic poetry. I suppose the first question would be on what *aspect* of the relationship between humans and nature would you like to focus? One interesting area of study is how Keats progresses from writing poetry that allows one to lose oneself in nature (to use nature as a way to avoid or transcend the pains of everyday/ "real" life) to writing poetry that uses nature as a way to understand the pains of real life--and how necessary these pains are to be a full person.

Keats often uses natural images to juxtapose pleasure and pain and show how necessary it is to have the two together working as "light and shade" to create a balanced and perfect view of the world/life.

A few good poems to look at for this kind of approach are:
To Autumn
Ode to A Nightingale

Just to get you started
Stay Awake!
--Anthony deMello
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Postby greymouse » Fri Sep 22, 2006 10:36 pm

Cool assignment, GearShifter. I wish you good luck with it.

An idea for a sonnet is "O Solitude, if I must with thee dwell" which deals with Keats' love of nature directly. The only problem is that it's short and lacks the depth and multi-dimensional treatment given in the odes Malia suggested. Maybe pick it as a 4th poem.
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Postby greymouse » Sat Sep 23, 2006 8:06 pm

GearShifter, I gave it some more thought and came up with a bunch more ideas you can play with:

Consider his posthumously published sonnet, "The Human Seasons" in which he meditates on the cycle of nature and relates it to the cycle of life. He deliberately chooses a Shakespearian Sonnet, so it can be separated into groups of 4-4-4-2 lines. The last couplet (Winter > Dying) therefore stands out and seems abruptly morbid in a Keats-style way. So Keats manages to combine poetic form, nature, and humanity into a harmonious whole. What delightful brilliance! Especially since he himself only was able to experience a spring and winter of life ...

How about the sonnet "Bright Star"? Do you think the metaphor is a simple one that any poet would use, or a deeper one that required some reflective thought?

How about the introduction to Endymion? Lines 40-120 seem like an enchanting, virtuosic description of nature with no deeper philosophical connection to humanity at all. It's just a tone setting upon which a story will be set. Does Keats believe that "A thing of beauty is a joy forever" and therefore a gorgeous deftly worded description of nature is of value in itself, or does this passage just serve the need of the larger work?

Read his "On the Grasshopper and the Cricket" and compare it to Hunt's "To the Grasshopper and Cricket". They both addressed the same topic (in a contest), but does Keats treat it differently - in a more philosophical way?


You have to read all these yourself and come to your own conclusions, but Keats gives you a lot to work with so you should have no trouble writing a sweet paper. Love these poems up and have fun!
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Postby dks » Sat Sep 23, 2006 10:51 pm

Gearshifter, you can also get some insight into Keats's treatment of the man and nature theme by perusing his letters--I'm thinking of the passage where he mentions his thoughts on a sense of "Worldly Happiness." He goes on to equate this with his ability to dissolve himself into his natural surroundings...it's a fantastic letter, and written in Keats's trademark earnest, yet profoundly insightful fashion. It touches on Keats's very personal and individualistic view of man's relationship to nature--more specifically, the poet's (his) relationship to nature.

It is the letter to Ben Bailey--November 22, 1817. :wink:
"I am certain of nothing but the holiness of the heart's affections and the Truth of Imagination."
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