Poetry has been defined differently depending on the focus on which an individual is biased to. For example, Malcolm notes that earlier attempts, like Aristotle's poets concentrated their definition of poetry towards drama, comedy, speech in rhetoric and finally in song. Kant points out that, later attempts to define poetry shifted focus towards characters and features like rhyme and verse form. In addition, Thomas notes that, the later definitions also focused in underlining the importance of features that differentiate poetry from prose forms of writing. Their main objective is to inform the readers about a certain subject such as essays, biographies, novels and manifestos (qtd. in Malcolm). However, at around the middle of the 20th century, there has been a loose definition of what poetry is essentially as the use of language creatively to come up with a piece of work.
Compared to other works of literature poetry is mainly distinguished by its form or structure, most modern poets have moved away from the recognized forms and are writing in free verse. However, these changes do not mean that poetry nowadays lack narration or it is illogical, it implies that poetry is an attempt in making the narrative thought process beautiful without the burden of engaging the logical. John Keats, a Romantic poet in English described it as "Negative Capability". In the "romantic" approach form is viewed as a key element in successful poetry since it is more distinct and abstract in terms of the underlying notional logic (Christensen et al). This term paper seeks to engage a number of Keats' poetry and prose while revising them in the light of the turns using the Jungian model of the psyche in unearthing Keats' authentic Self where he often concealed from his readers in his literary letters and poems. In particular, the revision of John Keats' work will be based on the turns in his poems whereby he changes the themes of the poems from the directions in which the poem was originally headed to, as a result hiding from his readers in his letters and poems the real and intended meaning using this technique in his poetic work. In addition, the use of poetic turns in the Sonnets that he wrote helps John Keats' in hiding emotional feelings from his readers.
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Born in Moorfield, in the 1790s John Keats schooled at the Reverend Mr. Clarke School at Enfield. However, John Keats was removed from school at an early and joined a surgeon Mr. Hammond as a trainee in Edmonton. Nevertheless, unsettled by the events that led to his removal from school he carried with him and always felt a shortage in the knowledge and mastery Latin. This compelled him to translate and write a literal prose of the whole of Aeneid by Virgil. Furthermore, at the time he was also learning and studying language on his own becoming learned for his age on his own. After the mandatory terms of years under Mr. Hammond, John Keats joined Guy's Hospital to study natural history, anatomy and medicine. Though John Keats was born a natural poet it is important to note that he picked up poetry in his eighteenth year, the studies in medicine apparently could not enable him to read literary work rather than the voluminous books on anatomy, medicine and history. However, his encounter after reading Spencer's "Fairy Queen" awakened the intellect he had within him for poetry.
Moreover, the fairy land in Spencer's work made him enlightened into a new world in which never existed before, he imitated the fairy land led him to writing his first volume of poems in which one of the poems in it is 'Imitation of Spenser', which has become a captivating poem for those who are interested in the history of John Keats. Essentially, the encounter he had with Spencer's work marked the beginning of love for poetry, John Keats was attracted to the work of Shakespeare, Spencer and Chaucer and after two years he was able to quit the profession in medicine and take poetry on a full time basis. In effect the decision to fully take poetry distinctly led to writing of volumes of poetry work which is still relevant and learnt today.
Always on Time
Marked to Standard
John Keats is one of the most influential British poets the world over. Keats died at the age of twenty five but his poems were a force to recon with. His influence however grew by leaps and bounds after his death. Poetry can be of a personal nature and certainly Keats was of a personal nature. The poem can portray the poet's state of mind, his feelings and what he or she perceives of something. Therefore by reading poetry we can dig into a poets psyche and understand the events or influence that transcended before the writing of the poem. Such poems may be about peace, war and love among others. It is a story about the poet's experiences. Keats poets are mostly about love and the spiritual or divine. Poetry as a literary art contains hidden messages.
In order to interpret and get a more vivid understanding of John Keats poetry it is prudent to lay emphasis on psychoanalysis and the concept of individuation. It is imperative to gain insight on how the human psyche works.
Psychoanalysis is a school of thought that was developed by a physician known as Sigmund Freud. Psychoanalysis involves the study of the human personality through the interpretation of dreams (Dunne 14). Freud outlined the contribution and relationship of the id, ego, and super ego in the structure of the human personality. The human psyche is what determines our cause of actions or behavior.
Just as it's the case with many poets, John Keat's loved the poetic turn too. He has employed turns strategically and beautifully in his poems. However, it's of great significant to acknowledge Keat's love of poetic turn. Negative capability is something that Keat is famous for valuing very significantly in poetry. Keat's theory of Negative Capability describes the capacity that one accepts the vague and the unresolved. Keat came up with this theory following the various occurrences that emerged both in his life and poetry work and he puts it forward by the use of the turn.
Walter Jackson Bate, Keat's most famous biographer does not make any emphasis on Keats humor. However, he acknowledges the fact that Keat possesses a 'fizzy absurdity.' It's this humor that grows on the turn-jokes, as amalgamation punch lines and set-ups, almost epitome of surprise and structure. As we will see in this context, turns appeared throughout Keats oeuvre as well as his light verse.
It's offhand and hard to think of comedy, play, wit or pleasure in relation to a serious laid out poetry. The connection between these two diverse literary works may even be more challenging for people to relate and grasp. Poetry is not just a mere statement of personal expression or art but it's dependent on the quality of formal play. This quality conflicts with false eloquence and sentimentality. It makes a provision of estrangement that permits a poem to setup itself as a crude construct in its won authority and rights.
Structural play or as M.L Rosenthal calls it 'formal play' in his work, 'The Poet's Art,' there is a minute separation between the vital serious poetry and the vital comedic that gives an impression at the very first glance. Such close relation is evident in Keat's various poems and prose.
On March 13th 1818, Keats sends a letter to Benjamin Bailey his friend. Through this letter, a revelation is made of how crucial the turn is to him in a witty and serious manner. In this correspondence, Keat lists "real things, semi-real and no things.' the existence of the stars and the moon and the passages of Shakespeare, are some of the real things that are mentioned by Keat (Grant 6).This statement is an evident portrayal of Keats's substantial reality that has been brought out as surprising poetic turn. Keat has brought out this style quite witty by integrating the astronomical bodies namely the moon and the stars with a rather out of place and a different subject all together: Shakespeare's writings. Despite the statement starting on a serious note through the use of rather hard to understand elements like the moon and stars, Keat incorporates humor in the same statement by using the turn to mention the passages of Shakespeare. The set-up and punch line is the structural strategies of the joke that is deployed by Keat in this prose. This deployment is made use of to give the impression of how such strategies are real as well as to him.
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In using the phrase 'the stars and the moon and the passages of Shakespeare, are some of the real things,' (Grant 6).one of Keat's psyche is behind this poetic volta. He shifts his ideas from scientific objects to Shakespeare's literary work. When psychoanalysis is applied in this context using Jung's model of the psyche to unearth Keat's psyche various the reader comes up with various conclusions. Keat's ego is the most likely psyche that is behind this poetic volta.
Ego is the peculiar conscious self to an individual. Ego plays five distinct roles that include the stability of identity, stability of person, reality testing, cognition and the executive function. It's this element of ego that makes an individual predictable and reliable as time goes by. Through ego, we get the ongoing sense of personality. Through this, we are able to predict what those close to us with do over a given period of time. We also get a sense of self that is stable over time. Through ego, we also have the capability of processing and storing information as well as to recall it after a given period of time. Through the same element, we are also able to carry out the world's daily demands. Ego finally assists us in testing reality by providing us with the capability to respect and obey physic's basic laws.
It's evident in the letter that Keat wrote to his friend Benjamin Bailey that he the ego psyche was used in writing the phrase 'the stars and the moon and the passages of Shakespeare, are some of the real things' (Grant 6). In this context, Keat has shown his respect and obedience to the laws of physics. He has recognized the moon and the stars as being real and in existence. The Ego (self-conscious faculty or I), according to Jung has four functions that are dependent and inseparable. There are four diverse basic methods of perceiving and interpreting reality and the two methods involved are used in responding to the same. Keat has perceived the element of the existence of real things. These are the things that are way over his understanding and the only people that can understand their existence clearly are the astronauts. However, he goes farther not only to perceive them but to interpret them as well. This is one of the evident elements of Keat's ego.
The shift of Keat's ideas from serious matters to rater comical ones is what would be referred in reference to Jung as individuation or the 'true personality.' The human psyche contains something which with time fights back to produce the 'true personality.' This is the fundamentals of the individuation process that is involved with the bridging of the gap between the ego-consciousness of the everyday world and the archetypical world of the unconscious treasures as one tries to actualize the individual psyche of the unique potentialities. Keat has used this style of poetic turn in his oeuvres sanding out from most of the poets at the time. Many of these poets wrote poems like mere narration that tells a sequential story. Many readers have also looked at many poems from such a deceiving perspective. However, any reader that is interested in narration through poems would be disappointed if he decided to study Keat's poems. One sure thing that a reader should bear in mind when looking for Keat's oeuvres is that the way the way they start is very diverse from their ending. A reader would be lost in imagination to think of how a poet would combine physical facts with literary work and still give the poem a taste of humor while still addressing complex and serious issues. This is one of the most recognized poetic turns that Keat is still related to. He always had a way of changing the direction of his thoughts to a new and completely different idea. However, he still maintained the harmony of the poem and did not at any one time navigate from his primary idea and motif of the poem.
Keat has proved to be a well informed poet due to the use of the poetic turn in his oeuvres. Just as Randall Jarell states in the 'Levels and opposites: Structure and poetry' Georgia Review of 1996, a successful poem starts from one position and ends at a very different one, often a contradictory or opposite one; yet there has been no break in the unity of the poem" (Andrew 8)Â T.S. Eliot on the other end goes on to say in "Andrew Marvell [Selected Essays: New Edition (New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1950), 251-63]," that the surprising poetic turn is the most crucial way of effects in poetry since Homer (Andrew 8).
Poetic turn is one of the most significant and shared style in the English poetry. One may however not realize this crucial poetic ingredient and when we think about poetry in general, it might not get into our consciousness immediately. A reader should be able to investigate and come up with a solid conclusion of the importance of the turn. In most cases, readers as well as poets have undermined the role played by the turn. This has led them to come up with poems that are more or less like a usual narration of novels. We should be distinguish between plain poems that have no turn integrated in them and those that has used this simple but very crucial element. We should also be able to identify the reason as to why we find the turn to be not a very momentous part of our sagacity of the meaning of poems and the role played by the same.
The Keat's psyche that is unearthed in this context and that he tries to conceal from his readers is the personal unconsciousness. According to Jung, there are various complexes that are contained in the personal unconscious. The instincts and the archetypes are contained in the collective unconscious. When consciousness with order is equated with the unconscious with chaos, from Jung's model of psyche we give to the conclusion that the two extremes have sandwiched our personal unconscious. This can therefore be viewed as a complexity region in which order and conscious relationships and that between chaos and unconscious can be seen. This is refereed as the imagination monarchy. When a reader finds these secrets behind Keat's psyche, he is therefore able to unveil the hidden meaning of Keat's oeuvre. The insight perceived through this realization helps the reader to have a deeper connection and interpretation of Keat's poems. However, without prior study of Jung's model of the psyche, it would be even more challenging to get to the bottom of the subject discussed in Keat's oeuvre.
A reader's most convenient way of unearthing Keat's psyche is by combining the psychoanalytic theory and poetic turns. These two elements provide a great highway towards approaching Keat's real self and revealing it in his oeuvres. This real self consequently reaches the individuation. The individuation process as Jung puts it is that progression of an individual towards realization of himself. This realization of one self gives the reader a much greater insight towards having a more defined understanding and interpretation of Keats oeuvres. The individuation process involves an individual's acceptance of his unconsciousness contents. At this stage, he is said to have reached the individuation process. Poetic turns are very confusing even a writer is not well informed on their usage. However, with the individuation process, one is able to relate to everything around him and in this case, Keat's oeuvres. With this realization, the interpretation of Keat's work becomes even more fun to study. In fact, a reader gets used to the poetic turns in such a way that he is able to determine the quality of poems and distinguish between those that have used the poetic turns and those that have given a plain narration. Turns do not only raise the quality of a poem but it boosts the insight of a reader towards various poetry works.
Another significant turn portrayed in Keat's oeuvre is his October 27th 1818 letter to Richard Woodhouse. In this letter, Keat again makes use of the turn in a very dramatic form. Despite the ideas being linked, the letter takes another different turn as it ends. The prior insight that a reader experiences as he goes through the letter are twisted in a way that they tend to altar the initial meaning of the letter. This is a technique that was common with Keat that he used to conceal his ideas from the readers making them dig deeper into his oeuvres to find the intended meanings.
In Keat's letter to Richard Woodhouse, he criticizes the empty poetic character's potential. In this context he says "[It] has no self - it is every thing and nothing - It has no character - it enjoys light and shade; [...] (Andrew 8)Â and continues to say that some of the things that delight to a chameleon poet shock the virtuous philosopher. Keat describes a poet as being the only thing in existence that is most unpoetical. This is due to the sole reason that he has no identity and is continually in place of another body while filling another one on the other side. She describes men, women, sea, moon and the sun as creatures that are poetical and of impulse and that they possess and unchangeable characteristic. However, a poet has none of the above and neither does he have an identity. Keat summarizes this by saying that a poet is the most unpoetical of all creatures in God's creation (Andrew 8).Â This letter is a good portrayal of Keat's realization of his own use of the turn. He is quite aware that a poet has the freedom to control his writing and not to follow any set structure. A turn may seem to be a mix up of ideas in a poem but the fact is that it upgrades the context of a poem.
The freedom of a poet as described by Keat can be farther explained using Jung's models of psyche. In this context, the open system model goes along well with the context of the letter that Keat wrote to Woodhouse. In Jung's open system model, self is the center of the psyche. The same case applies to Keat. He took the control of his oeuvres through his mind. He was therefore able to make independent decision that did not follow another poet's criteria but rather his own mind and will. He is able to maneuver through various subjects and place them in the same text. The diversity between these unrelated subjects were used by Keat to bring out even a more strong poetic turn creates a concrete context of contrast between the initial and the former ideas.
In Jung's open system model, the self is brought to equilibrium by the ego merged with the persona's shadow. As much as Keat used the turn in his work he made sure that he balanced the two contradicting ideas. This brought out a sense of equilibrium whereby despite the two parts being diverse, none took the entire control of the oeuvre. As a result, a reader is able to go through such work without being biased in either side of it. He maintains a sense of harmony and independence between the two contradicting parts in the work. At one end of the Jung's open system model is the conscious, there is a filter which is the persona to the external world of ego. At the other end is the unconscious whereby the filter to the collective unconscious is the archetype of the animus or anima. The ego creates the persona a mechanism, of defense for the shadow and there occurs equilibrium between the two energies.
Keat's uses his persona to integrate both the conscious and the unconscious ideas. Again this brings about a complex and hidden meaning to the motif of his letter to Woodhouse. The recipient of the letter as well as the reader has to therefore use his persona too to differentiate between the conscious and the unconscious elements. By determining the boundary that separates the unconscious and the conscious elements, the reader is able to determine Keat's intended meaning of the turn. These two elements accompany each other and are inseparable. One should therefore be able to determine the thin line separating them so as to come up with a better defined conclusion.
Therefore by studying Keats poetry we can get an understanding of his psyche. The identity or id is the part of the personality that lives in the sub conscious and unconscious part of the mind; however it is not alive to our immediate thought. The ego just like the identity is also found in the unconscious and sub conscious part of the mind. The ego is the servant of the id and tries to meets its needs realistically. The super ego on the other hand is the moral part of the mind. It is full of values and beliefs such as purity and conformity. Carl Jung also a great thinker and scholar in the field of psychology developed analytical psychology. Jung borrows a lot from Freud school of thought .Jung posited that the human psyche consists of the conscious and unconscious. The conscious and unconscious parts work in tandem however the conscious still maintains its autonomy. This is what is referred to as individuation. His works in analytical psychology rallied bend individuation.
The poem Bright Star is about Keats relationship with his love of his life Fanny Brawne. In this short poem Keats uses literary techniques and rhyme to bring out his inner feelings for the love of his life. When Keats is addressing Fanny in the first two lines of the poem the identity is behind this poetic volta. He says" Bright star, would I were steadfast as thou art. Not in lone splendor hung aloft the night" (Elisha, 23). Keats says that it is his wish to be around Fanny forever. That time will be unchanging and there will be no end to time. This is because the star will always be there despite the change of time and events. The star depicts unending time. Through this he is engaging in imagination and wishful thinking because this is not possible. Time will ultimately come to an end. Their love for one another will ultimately be cut short by an event, it cannot last forever. The id engages in this imagination possibly as a way of tension reduction for he does not know what will transpire between him and his love.
The id more than not engages in impulsive tendencies that may be harmful to itself and other people. It is a selfish personality. This is the reason why he would rather die than live without his love. In the last line of Bright star Keats says "And so lives ever or else swoons to death" (Elisha, 23). This is an ego defense mechanism. This is because his ego is under strain and thus it attempts not to believe the fact that their love will come to an end. This may attributed to his personal and historical background. Fanny Brawne shared the same first name with Keats mother and sister. This probably made Keats feel attracted to Fanny more. Having lost his mother she was a remainder and probably saw her mother in her. Therefore Keats did at no time want to imagine that he would loose yet another part of himself. The title of the poem Bright star is also symbolic in that his life was full of darkness, death, depression due to his financial problems. Fanny was the star that lit up his life. Seeing the demise, or if Fanny would break up with him this would bring darkness back to his life.
Individuation is integrated by two processes of human maturation. The first stage is the adaptation of ones life in the first half of his or her life. The second stage is characterized by the relationship between the unconscious part and the ego. Keats was a young man and therefore still adapting to his surrounding and the world around him in the first half of his life. Therefore Keats was more concerned with adaptation during the third phase of the fist half of his life Keats strives to learn about his father world as Jung called it. Thus he comes interested and craves to relate with members of the opposite sex. He adopts a masculine figure in a bid to attract a female partner .It is during this phase that Keats falls in love with Isabella who he kissed and warmed up with. It is also during this period that he falls in love with Fanny until when he breaths his last. He loved her so much that" All his desires were concentrated on her"
In the Poem a draught of sunshine John Keats lays more emphasis on the spiritual. Just like in any faith or religion the world over the soul is part of the human being. Most people believe that the soul is different from the human body although the soul embodies the body. In the thirteenth line to the twentieth line Keats says" God of the Meridian. To thee my soul is flown. And the body is earthward press'd. It is an awful mission. A terrible division; and leaves a gulph austere to be filled with worldly fear" (Stillinger 53). Keats probably wrote this poem when he was ailing from terminal tuberculosis and probably in his death bed. He states that his soul has actually flown out of his body and to his creator. Keats understands that life is harsh an awful mission. He has encountered so much pain and suffering and is now left with a worldly sense. The separation with his soul leaves him enduring lonely hours.
Keats is even desperate to succumb to illness and eventually die. He says "Aye, when the soul is fled to high above our head, Affrighted do we gaze after its airy maze, as doth a mother wild, when her young infant child, is in eagles claws" (Stillinger 54). The use of this imagery depicting a mother lost from her child shows this desperation. Keats lost his father and mother at a young age and his brother follows suits. Most of his life he grows up with his grandmother. After the death of his brother Tom he also falls ill .His ailing thus puts him in such a position that he wishes that he would die. The ego is part of the psyche behind this poetic volta. The ego acts as an intermediary between the identity and the external world. The ego is the executor of the personality by maintaining transactions with the external world in the interest of the fuller personality.
Due to his pain and suffering Keats sees the only way out is death. It is only realistic thing to do. That it is death which will bring him peace and fulfillment which has for long been eluding him. The ego in this case is trying to meet Keats need realistically. The ego defensive mechanism is reaction. This is because expressing an impulse by its opposite. This way he will probably reduce anxiety.
Although Keats life was brutally cut short his imagination and poetic prowess is admirable. Imagination is inspired by the consciousness through dreams and visions. Keats evokes the egoless and self of the human mind. Keats typified negative capability. This is because individuals need a much more life span to develop and realize such literary heights as Keats attained. This is a very rare feat yet Keats attained this even without the guidance of a guru. It is as if Keats compressed his second phase of life to fit in the first phase. He wrote all his poems within a period of four years .an unenviable more than one hundred and fifty poems. His level of self creativity is admirable and so is his intent and vision. Keats says that "what is creative must also make creative" (Wolfson 78). Keats psychological maturation is intriguing as well as unrivalled. This critical imbalance can be attributed to his historical background where he was forced to become more mature and responsible at an early age.
Individuation in the Jungian model of self realization is a balance and synthesis of the conscious and unconscious .Keats poetry is not only self creative but also a journey of development of the self. Realizing and understanding his or her deepest and innermost self as being divine and unified. This is a dualism of divine and humane that an individual embraces in their search upon life way.
Keats wrote the poem Galloway song because "Brown wanted to impose a Galloway song upon Dilke but it won't do. The subject I got from meeting a wedding just as we came down into this place" (Wolfson 37), a journey of self healing and development. Keats strives for the inner spark which is divine. This is probably due to the realization that spiritual nourishment and divinity is important. There is the relationship between human features, an interdependence and relatedness that works for the betterment of the whole .Such spontaneous and even unpredictable natural processes continue to marvel people scientist included.
Keats work was not embraced fully by some, instead the criticized his works. This is because to them he did not belong to the echelons of the literary world. This partly because he did not have the chance to attend prestigious schools unlike his predecessor's .Another factor was that because he was young and lacked the necessary experience. Also some of his critics claimed that his style of writing could not be classified as Romanticism. To them he was an outsider despite his prowess and giftedness in poetry. This wall of criticism is what Jung would call 'intuitive introvert' (Dunne 67). A wall of intellectualism that is stubbornly keen on maintaining its legacy and even status quo .This criticism is not based on fact or logic but instead it is unfairly biased because they do not use the same objective and subjective tests when it applies to their case.
John Keats poetry epitomizes a man who lived his life and died intensely. His works motivate and inspire people. It motivates the individual to delve and seek out their true calling to life. Keats may have died young but he achieved and accomplished his desire of being a poet if his legacy is anything to go by.
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Stillinger, Jack. John Keats: Poetry Manuscripts at Harvard, a Facsimile
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Dunne, Clare .Carl Jung: Wounded Healer of the Soul: An Illustrated Biography.
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