August 26, 2016
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May 17, 2018 at 2:53 pm
A majority of this stanza seems to draw a lot of inspiration from the tragedy Romeo and Juliet. The two things that particularly caught my attention were “Heard Melodies are sweet, but those unheard / Are sweeter” and “She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss / for ever wilt thou love, and she be fair!”.
The heard and unheard melodies remind me of Tennyson’s “Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all” meaning, though Romeo and Juliet’s love was short and forbidden, it doesn’t make it any less valid, and this stanza, and the ending of R&J, basically argue that those factors make it better.
The last two lines strike me as references to when Romeo first comes upon Juliet when he thinks she’s dead but is only sleeping. He describes her as “Death, that hath suck’d the honey of thy breath, Hath had no power yet upon thy beauty“ which falls in with, “For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair!” and the romanticization of the dead and dying that was popular in Elizabethan and Grecian times, which this is an ode to.
See in context
May 17, 2018 at 1:26 pm
[What little town by river or sea shore] It’s interesting that here the speaker reflects on what is not portrayed on the urn, but what he has intuited through imaginative interaction with it. This capacity of art to “activate” our own imaginative capacities is I think central to Keats’s conception of negative capability, which surpasses the calcified nature of plodding sequential logic by enlivening our conceptions with personal power and agency–drawing us in to the transcendent properties of artistic experience. Notice though that his conceptions of the town bear the stamp of his all-too-human state of isolation and uncertainty. In this life we ourselves are like the abandoned town, afflicted by a sense of abandonment and loss.
May 17, 2018 at 4:16 am
Keats takes special interest in the connection between Beauty and Truth. We have seen this in this poem as well as his letters. I believe this speaks to his views on the arts and how, in communicating beauty and emotion, we might see truths of life beyond the written word or simple logic. The Grecian Urn is an example of how wisdom is reflected in the beauty, and simplicity of this object which is often overlooked.
May 17, 2018 at 3:59 am
It would seem that Keats believes that poetry is not intended to be logical but to be emotional and beautiful. In this letter he seems to define a line between him and his acquaintances, in that they are unable to look past logic because they are uncomfortable with uncertainty. This would be a quality which Keats may not enjoy in the company he keeps. One of the more intriguing and defining characteristics of poetry, and poets themselves, would be negative capability. Poetry is not often confined by anything but imagination and so it is necessary to look past uncertainty, or mystery, in order to see the beauty of it.
May 10, 2018 at 3:12 pm
In Keat’s letter to Bailey, he speaks with great importance, of their friendship. Keats seems to have a great understanding of Man’s nature. An example of this is in the line, “… two Minds meet and do not understand each other time enough to prevent any shock or surprise at the conduct of either part…”. Keat’s uses Bailey’s conflict with Haydon to present the idea that many are unable to see beyond their first impression of another. To dwell on first impressions will likely cause hurt from either party. He seems to know both Bailey and Haydon well enough to have decided that Haydon was not a valuable acquaintance while Bailey is a great friend. Keats goes on in his letter to propose that “Men of Genius” do not have any individuality. This may be because a mind overflowing with logic may not allow themselves to emote strongly, they seem to lack passion and imagination. It seems to follow, that the greatest minds are those that possess both logic and passion. He relates this idea back to Bailey and Haydon’s conflict in the line, “Can it be that even the greatest philosopher ever arrived at his goal without putting aside numerous objections?” Keats questions the value looking past objections as this might lead to a greater conclusion. This leads to the question of whether sensation or thought will lead to the happiest life. He seems to conclude that both sensation and thought are essential for eternal Happiness. He ends the letter begging Bailey to look past any surface impression of coldness to see that it is only a short tragic affliction and not to be attributed to his feelings toward Bailey. It seems we may surmise that Bailey could not see past a cold attitude from Hayden as his mind was likely one drowning in logic rather than passion. It is likely Keat’s hope to display his and Bailey’s ability to balance both logic and passion in order to overcome conflict in initial impressions. In his way he is saying that Imaginative, complex minds may have greater success in achieving eternal Happiness.
May 9, 2018 at 5:14 pm
[this head I have hung over my Books]
What a nice act to ponder as we set about our work of marking up Keats’ marginalia to Shakespeare. The “head” probably refers to a portrait rather than a bust, since he refers to hanging it. That Keats has selected it for prominent display over his books in his workspace really conveys his enthusiasm for the Bard, and the desire for inspiration that comes from admiration for a major artistic predecessor. Think of it, at this stage (April 1817) he had not yet written ANY of the poems that we read and discussed in ENGL 268–they won’t come until several years later. He was reading Shakespeare, though–closely, and by this point he had inscribed most or all of the marginalia into the edition we’re studying. According to the front inscription in Vol. 1, he presented the heavily marked set as a gift to his friend Joseph Severn the very month he wrote this letter. It was Severn who painted the picture of Keats displayed at the project gutenberg edition of his letters, with (guess who?) hanging on the wall above.
By the way, the complete set of Shakespeare can be viewed here (it takes a moment to load): https://iiif.lib.harvard.edu/manifests/view/drs:14637636$1i
March 15, 2017 at 10:44 pm
Very good evidence! Make sure that gets into your notes. We’ll want to compile any and all marked content not mentioned by Lewis that helps to support his thesis.
March 15, 2017 at 10:38 pm
Nice points, Kenzington. Lewis likely gravitated toward the marginalia he could most easily make sense of–in terms of the connections to “Hawthorne and His Mosses” and to Moby-Dick. Other marginalia in the set may be more difficult to make construe in that context–and correspond more closely to the sort of evidence Lewis puts under the “bafflement” column–but that’s where the opportunity to reveal new insights and observations will be strongest.
March 9, 2017 at 3:43 am
One of the final markings within my section of The Odyssey is found on 1.297. http://melvillesmarginalia.org/tool.php?id=117&vu=y
The entire final half of the page pertains to the sea. However, the passage marked by Melville definitely pertains far more to Lewis’s previous claim that Melville had a focus on death and the relationship between God and man. I find it interesting because this seems like a fairly obvious omission of a marked passage that seems to support previous claims so well.
March 9, 2017 at 3:27 am
I have to constantly remind myself that I am most likely falling into confirmation bias regarding how we read Homer’s reading. Interestingly enough, there are multiple sections marked within my section that pertain to Calypso and Circe. I can’t help but wonder why Melville would find them interesting enough to mark, but I’ve realized that I often find myself “reading” into his readings and assigning meanings that are not backed by tangible evidence. Of course, I can make certain arguments, but when one considers a more concrete perspective I can’t help but consider myself presumptuous.