16 votes
Accepted

What is the meaning of "To Autumn"?

If "To Autumn" were merely a pretty description of the season, it wouldn't be considered a great poem. In fact, to read it as a straightforward celebration is to fall into the same trap as the bees in ...
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  • 15.3k
12 votes

Do the poisons in "Ode on Melancholy" have deeper meaning?

Keats may have chosen the first two of these specific poisons because he could associate them with grapes and wine, and he may have chosen yew-berries because they look like beads. The first poison is:...
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  • 7,715
11 votes
Accepted

Explain the grammar of "That not one fleecy lamb ..." in Keats' "Endymion"

The main verb here is "pass'd", and what you're missing is the now rather archaic (and in this case divided by an intervening phrase) usage of the phrase "not one but". I can't ...
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  • 63.1k
8 votes

Had Keats read any of Homer's works before reading Chapman's translation of them?

He was probably familiar with Alexander Pope's version, which was the prestigious version at the time.1 It's likely that Keats wasn't enamored with this version. He was famously critical of 18th ...
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  • 629
7 votes
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Are Endymion and Hyperion by John Keats intended to be related pieces?

No. In fact, each poem has a closer relative within the corpus of Keats's work. There's also a stronger connection between "Endymion" and one of Shelley's poems that there is between the ...
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  • 15.3k
7 votes
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Where did Keats write “wrinkled brow and sneer of cold command”?

This is because it is a slight misquote, the line being And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command, It's from Ozymandias, by Percy Shelley, not Keats.
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  • 4,168
7 votes
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What was the connection between Hardy and Keats?

TL;DR: (i) Keats’ biographer Sidney Colvin consulted Hardy, not as an expert on Keats, but rather as an expert on Lulworth Cove. (ii) Hardy (wrongly) believed that Keats had written ‘Bright Star’ at ...
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  • 39.1k
7 votes

Is Keats' swan with "neck of arched snow" an allusion to Milton's "swan with arched neck"?

Keats’ debt to Milton in these lines was well observed. But Keats was not the only poet to borrow from Milton’s description of the swan! Borrowing from Milton Phil Robinson discussed Milton’s swan and ...
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  • 39.1k
6 votes

Who is the “close bosom-friend of the maturing sun”?

The ode is titled ‘To Autumn’, which means that it is addressed to Autumn, as if the season were a person capable of listening to the speaker. This personification is clearest in the second stanza, ...
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  • 39.1k
5 votes
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Alternate meaning of "still" in 'Ode to a Nightingale'

While it's true that "still" is polysemous, I have a hard time justifying a reading of "dead" or "motionless" in this context. I could just as easily justify that the bird is making bootleg whiskey. "...
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  • 4,878
5 votes

Alternate meaning of "still" in 'Ode to a Nightingale'

It could mean Would you sing if you were dead (still, motionless)? This allusion to stillness is reinforced by the above: While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad In such an ecstasy! Ode to a ...
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  • 1,818
5 votes

Why is "Ode on Melancholy" an Ode?

This is meant as a supplement to @akr's concise answer. "Ode" derives from two Ancient Greek word for song: ἀοιδή and ᾠδή You will note from the links that one of the entries for the first word is: ...
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  • 3,940
5 votes

Why was John Keats called a poet “who was kill’d off by one critique”?

Shelley wrote, in his preface to Adonais: An Elegy on the Death of John Keats, that the critique directed against Keats's poem Endymion was enough to bring about his sudden death at the age of 25: ...
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  • 63.1k
5 votes

Explain the grammar of "That not one fleecy lamb ..." in Keats' "Endymion"

The difficult word here is “but”, which Keats uses in the following sense. (All definitions in this answer come from the Oxford English Dictionary.) but, conj., 10.e.(b) With the pronominal subject ...
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  • 39.1k
4 votes
Accepted

Meaning of the noun 'sweet' in Keats' "Endymion"

Keats is fond of rare and archaic senses of words, but I think that all the senses here are guessable, if you think carefully about what the word needs to mean for the line to make sense in its ...
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  • 39.1k
4 votes

Why is "Ode on Melancholy" an Ode?

Merriam-Webster's definition of "ode" is not very useful for determining whether a specific poem is an ode: the definition is too vague and it ignores the genre's history. The Oxford Companion to ...
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  • 38.1k
4 votes

On what occasion did Shelley say "Keats was a Greek"?

The earliest version of this story appears in A New Spirit of the Age by Richard H. Horne (1844), page 196: When somebody expressed his surprise to Shelley, that Keats, who was not very conversant ...
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  • 39.1k
4 votes
Accepted

Meaning of this line in "On seeing the Elgin Marbles"

I have never thought of this line in reference to the Parthenon, and to me that makes no sense. Here's my interpretation: The way I've always viewed this line is as saying "every high point in ...
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  • 4,179
3 votes

Meaning of this line in "On seeing the Elgin Marbles"

You need to read through the enjambed line. It might help to remove the carriage return: And each imagined pinnacle and steep of godlike hardship tells me I must die Further... it helps to realize ...
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  • 4,878
2 votes

Alternate meaning of "still" in 'Ode to a Nightingale'

Still here is also an allusion to death, to being still, to no longer being alive, or moving. "Allusion" means to refer to something without mentioning it directly, which is what poets do. So, ...
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  • 468
2 votes

Why is wolf's bane "tight-rooted" in Keats' "Ode on Melancholy"?

It's possible that Keats is using the adjective "tight-rooted" here to keep the tone of the first half of the poem consistent, in that tight-rooted has a connotation of being trapped and imprisoned, ...
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  • 373
2 votes
Accepted

Why is the 1820 Indicator version of La Belle Dame Sans Merci seen as more "politically correct"?

Fry relies on McGann, so in this answer I’m going to summarize McGann’s argument. McGann starts with the observation that a commonly accepted editorial principle is that the editor should try to ...
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  • 39.1k
2 votes

Has "To Autumn" ever ended the first stanza with something other than a period?

‘To Autumn’ was first published in Lamia, Isabella, the Eve of St Agnes and Other Poems (London: Taylor and Hessey, 1820) where it starts on page 137 and you can see for yourself that the first stanza ...
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  • 39.1k
2 votes

What did Keats mean by “it is not without a feeling of regret that I make it public” in his preface to "Endymion"?

As an explanation, it's worth including the next few lines of the introduction as well: What manner I mean, will be quite clear to the reader, who must soon perceive great inexperience, immaturity, ...
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  • 19.2k
2 votes
Accepted

What are the "lovely tales" in Keats' "Endymion"?

Lines 1–33 of ‘Endymion’ form an introduction to the story, which starts at line 34: Therefore, ’tis with full happiness that I Will trace the story of Endymion. The only way to understand the ...
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  • 39.1k
1 vote
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Keats' views on beauty

The question asks, ‘Was Keats ever criticized for standardizing generic beauty?’ and the answer is ‘yes—indeed, he was criticized along these lines by his own fiancée, Fanny Brawne!’ The evidence for ...
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  • 39.1k
1 vote

Meaning of "shade to shade" in Keats' "Ode on Melancholy"

This is a notoriously difficult pair of lines whose meaning depends on how you interpret the argument of the whole poem. I’ll give two interpretations: the standard one first, and then an alternative ...
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  • 39.1k
1 vote

Meaning of "shade to shade" in Keats' "Ode on Melancholy"

Keats is saying that if you try to immerse yourself in objects of sadness, then you won't be as aware of your own sadness as much. Shade (sadness) will come to (existing) shade too drowsily: i.e., it ...
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