Sunday, April 25, 2010

Keats on Poetry

Tree in Gold by Midenian Scholar
"In Poetry I have a few Axioms," wrote John Keats in 1818, in one of his famous letters. "1st. I think Poetry should surprise by a fine excess and not by Singularity—it should strike the Reader as a wording of his own highest thoughts, and appear almost a Remembrance—2nd. Its touches of Beauty should never be half way thereby making the reader breathless instead of content: the rise, the progress, the setting of imagery should like the Sun come natural to him—shine over him and set soberly although in magnificence leaving him in the Luxury of twilight—but it is easier to think what Poetry should be than to write it—and this leads me on to another axiom. That if Poetry comes not as naturally as the Leaves to a tree it had better not come at all." Two centuries on, much of our poetry is still written in the long shadow of these ideas. Indeed, just a few lines by Keats are a tonic reminder of the stunning naturalness of a good poem and what issues from it: the transformation of basic human experience into a form that enlarges it, and us.

~ from here
 

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