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John Keats, The “unpoetical” Poet: Defense Of Truth

4 Pages 1092 Words

John Keats, the “unpoetical” Poet: Defense of Truth

Keats, on his deathbed, is troubled, as no one has really understood the philosophical and aesthetic principles underlying his work. J. W. Croaker of the Quarterly Review condemns him as the uneducated son of a stable-manager and the exponent of the “Cockney School”. Edinburgh Review describes his work as “tartarly” as Milman stated. Even brothers George and Thomas never seemed to comprehend his use of the term “negative capability”. As he waits to die, he is writing to his one remaining brother, George, explaining the concerns and tensions that appear in his work.

My dear brother,
George, you must be clear on who I am, and my heavy purpose in life. I must not go misunderstood any longer. You are my last hope. I do not despair upon my pride, but merely my compulsion to be real, to represent truth. That is all that has ever mattered to me. I do not desire fame. I will say it again: only to express truth is what is important. My works are really about what is real, this temporary world, what I know to be true. I never gave up my search for truth yet I always believed I could never be satisfied with an explanation of logic or reason. Yet I am not without heart (Abrams et al. 888).
Much thought have I given on life and art (886). Not oft have I been perplexed, but those few times I am not clear on my intent, on reality, such as in “Ode to a Nightingale”, I must admit that I became captivated out of my everyday reality. I stopped thinking and reasoning for a while. “Ode to a Nightingale” was completed and I
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later wondered which state of consciousness was real, and which was a dream. Alas, I will concentrate on what has always been clear to me. To create a new viewpoint this close to my end would serve nothing. I must focus. I am not in a state of mind to adopt anew. I do not understand logic. I can, and must, preserve, at lea...

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