John Keats (1795-1821)
Things to Consider:
** Homework Questions **
- Negative Capability
- Role of Nature
- Role of Art
Endymion: A Poetic Romance (1818)
- What, according to the editors, are "the distinctive
qualities of the work of Keats's maturity" (902)?
- How does the preface to this poem compare to Coleridge's
for "Kubla Khan"? Explain.
- Explain: "[T]here is not a fiercer hell than the
failure in a great object" (907).
- How does the speaker explain his motivation for telling the
story of Endymion?
- Explain: "A thing of beauty is a joy forever" (1).
- Where, according to the speaker, does one find happiness?
- Explain the reference to "self-destroying" (799).
- What is "negative capability"(968)? See also 902.
- What is the "egotistical sublime" (973)?
- Explain Keats's concept of the "vale of Soul-making" (976).
Other Discussion Questions:
- Why did Keats abandon medicine for poetry?
- What, according to the speaker, comprises "the chief
- Explain the reference to "men-slugs" and "human serpentry"
- Explain Keats's three axioms of poetry.
"Ode to a Nightingale" (1819)
- How does this poem compare with Percy Shelley's "To a
- What is hemlock (2)? Why does the speaker feel as
if he has drunk it?
- What is Lethe (4)?
- What does the speaker long to forget?
- Why "seems it rich to die" (55)?
- Explain: "The fancy cannot cheat so well / As she is
fam'd to do" (73-4).
"Ode on a Grecian Urn" (1819)
- Why are unheard melodies sweeter than heard ones (11-12)?
- Explain: "She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy
bliss, / For ever wilt thou love and she be fair" (19-20).
- Explain: "Beauty is truth, truth beauty,--that is
all / Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know" (49-50).
Other Discussion Questions:
- What is vintage (11)?
- What is the "blushful Hippocrene" (16)?
- Who is Ruth (66)?
More Complex Questions:
- How does "Ode on a Grecian Urn" compare to Shakespeare's
(Source: McGraw-Hill Guide to English Literature,
- Why does the speaker say that the urn "canst thus express
/ A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme" (3-4)?
Explain what this means and how it might be so.
- This poem is an apostrophe to an inanimate object.
How does this rhetorical device function in this poem?
- In the ode, the speaker establishes a contrast between
life as it is represented on the urn and life as it is
lived. What is the nature of this contrast, and where
does it surface in this poem?
Another Work to
Consider (Pages #'s refer to another edition):
"The Fall of Hyperion: A Dream" (1819)
- Who are Hyperion, Apollo, Mnemosyne and Saturn?
- Why did Keats give up the Hyperion project?
- Explain the "induction" found in the first 18 lines.
- Describe the imagery presented in 1.59-92.
- Explain the challenge the speaker is given in 1.107-8.
- Why is the speaker alone (1.160)?
- Explain the discussion of the vulture and the eagle
- What, according to the "shade", is the difference
between a poet and a dreamer?
- Who is Moneta?
- Explain 1.244-48.
- What is an "immortal sickness" (1.258)?
- What is the "Omega of a wither'd race" (1.288)?
- Who is Thea? Why does she wake Saturn (1.354ff)?
- What literary technique is employed in 1.372-78? How is the
use of this technique significant, if at all?
- For how long does the speaker stay looking at the three
motionless figures of Moneta, Thea, and Saturn? Why?
- Who is Cybele?
- Who is speaking in 2.1-49?
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