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`A thing of beauty is a joy forever` - How far and in what ways does Keats communicate this belief in his odes.

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Introduction

`A thing of beauty is a joy forever`. How far and in what ways does Keats communicate this belief in his odes. Emotion was the key element of any Romantic poet, the intensity of which is present in all of Keats poems. Keats openly expressed feelings ignoring stylistic rules which suppressed other poets. Keat's poems display a therapeutic experience, as many of his Odes show a sense of struggle to accept, and a longing to search for an emotion which he could feed off for his eternity. As romantics emphasised beauty in order to replace the lack of religion. The quote `A thing of beauty is a joy forever`, I believe tormented him ever since he wrote `Endymion`, the Odes to be discussed are hence almost a progression of thought and understanding of his own beliefs. 'Ode to Autumn' is perhaps the greatest of nature poems written , and I can only agree when Cedric Watts wrote that it is a `richly resourceful yet alert and unsentimental'. Keats creates a sumptuousness which reflects the beauty he has found in Autumn. The intonation within the first stanza is almost of excitement, as if this beauty has suddenly unleashed itself onto his senses, its effect is more powerful than the drug induced mood in `Nightingale`. The first line introduces us to the personified autumn. ...read more.

Middle

Keats has found joy in the innocence of the nightingale, who `among the leaves hast never known, the weariness, the fever and the fret here, where men sit and hear each other groan'. The bird is oblivious to the pain and death. The nightingale's song has been heard by himself 'emperor and clown' and also by the biblical 'Ruth', the beauty, its song has mesmerised and consoled many. I believe Keat's attempts to find a lasting joy in the nightingales song, hence: `thou wast not born for death, immortal bird'. He wishes its song never to end, and when it flees the question `Do I wake or sleep`, I believe is Keats questioning, now that he is out of its trance, has he awakened to the reality of everyday existence. Where 'youth grows pale, and spectre - thin, and dies'? The deliberate punctuated pauses before the conjunction slows the reader and hence echos his brothers Toms death, soon to be his. Therefore the lines: `Where Beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes, or new love pine at them beyond to-morrow', show the inevitable change of time and hence the loss of beauty. Similar to the `Ode to Nightingale` Keats went on to write `Ode to a Grecian Urn`, which has been acclaimed to be his greatest poem. The beauty of the Urn isn't natural, it is artificial, hence contrasting the `nightingale`. ...read more.

Conclusion

As Psyche is left holding the lantern in search for her love, Keats is left questioning, searching for something to replace God, a beauty which lasts forever, which is immortal. It wasn't until reading the five odes in progression that I understood the message. He attempts to replace unorthodox religion with emotional experience. His joyful experience is found through beauty. He attempts to define this beauty in terms of a `nightingales song`, Pysche's love, nature's beauty in Autumn, and artificial beauty in art. He also questions this beauty in `melancholy'. Referring back to the question `A thing of beauty is a joy forever`, I believe it was written in naive knowledge. As Keats realises that this is not the case. True, beauty brings joy, but beauty fades, as life fades. Hence the seasons change, the nightingale flees, love fades. But, new seasons bring new beauty, a new bird sings the same song, the historical stories of the urn hold the same emotions, frozen in time, immortal. Then does this suggest that beauty is immortal too? The quote from` Endimyon` can be argued `forever`, as the critics decide numerous meanings and interpretations. Perhaps Keat's struggle within the poems wasn't fluctuations of emotions on his behalf, but a mocking challenge to us, to argue, re-define and question our emotions and our definement of beauty. Our forever is until we die, if we are not subordinated by melancholy towards our end, the joy of beauty for us, will last forever. ...read more.

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