Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A thing of beauty is a joy forever

After watching the movie, Bright Star, I was inspired to revisit the poetry of John Keats. It is rather rummy, but I hadn't read Keats for some 5 years! And he really needs to be kept between Austen and Wodehouse on the close and handy shelf that you walk by everyday so that you can, at the very least, smile and wave.

His poems are dream-like without being too dreamy, classical without being stiffish and droll. They are lovely and romantic leaving you feeling joy and inspiration rather than mush.

He is odd in his way, being a Romantic poet that has a moral code, as opposed to Lord Byron and Bysshe Shelley. While Keats nursed his sick brother and caught tuberculosis from him, Byron and Shelley were loving and leaving women left and right. They were great in their way, but were no John Keats.

Keats lived during the time of Jane Austen (how cool is that!), and if either of them had actually moved in larger literary circles, they might've met and read each others work, or at least had interesting discussions. He seemed to share several commonalities with Jane Austen, including dying young and receiving large recognition posthumously.

I'm not exactly sure how accurate Bright Star is. There is, in any biographical movie, some amount of hypothesis that goes on, but it's pretty solid. (And TONS better than that heretical Miss Austen Regrets.)

Here is something for those of you with sporting blood. Read the three poems below and vote which are by Keats and which are by Von Gladden (that's my man). And NO looking on the internet or elsewhere at "first lines" and such! Not even after you vote, let the suspicion hang in the air until we cut it with a knife. Scout's honor! Code of the Woosters! After all votes are in we'll have a nice ol' chat about which John Keats poems are our favorites.

#1
Nature withheld Cassandra in the skies,
For more adornment, a full thousand years;
She took their cream of Beauty, fairest dies,
And shaped and tinted her above all peers:
Meanwhile Love kept her dearly with his wings,
And underneath their shadow filled her eyes
With such a richness that the cloudy Kings
Of high Olympus uttered slavish sighs.
When from the Heavens I saw her first descend,
My heart took fire, and only burning pains,
They were my pleasures--they my Life's sad end;
Love poured her beauty into my warm veins.

#2
You are closer of me than this sunset
Which tosses pink haze among the cold pines,
Closer than music in the rain I find,
Closer than way birds wing to narrow rest.
Finding always the subtle good not there,
The light that strangely floods an empty scene,
And fills with high hope, the cheer of all seen,
Your music rests beside and over, fair.
I cannot turn from you the thanks to give,
You are the heart of my house and give heart
To beginning, middle, and end of this Art,
This being found by new reasons to live.
Court, count Time with me for we shall go
Down a doubly bright path the round sun goes.

#3
The forest greens I wander easily,
And take their beauty in my roving eye -
How the shaggy trees hang with heavy leaves
Like green rain hung silent beneath Time's sighs.
Yet thee I never shall encapture so -
No, more easily silence the woodlands,
Or steal the sweetened scent there o'erblown,
And all about the clinging vines weave bands.
More easily (all impossible!) chain
Up Thy body's beauty in a painting,
Than teach my mind and soul to overtame
Your pure spirit that leaves no Grace wanting.
The gorgeous hummingbird, Thy body like,
Hovers o'er Thy soul's lilies, ever white.

9 comments:

Susanna said...

Hmm... I had a hard time deciding, but I think Matthew wrote #1 and #3. Final answer :)

The R said...

I think 2 and 3 are by the same author...Keats? The 1st one stands alone...Von...what's his name? You can tell this is a very educated guess. :-)

Lydia said...

Drew and I say the first one is Keats, second Matthew, and the third is a bit tougher, but we'll go with Matthew.

Anna said...

Here is my vote. I read them once w/ a little skimming
and decided on these.
Here goes nothin'...

1---Keats
2---Von Gladden
3---Von Gladden or Keats.... okay okay I'm going with Von Gladden

Bess said...

I agree with Ruth completely except she got the authors backward which means I'm voting like Anna and Lydia. Ok...you figure it out! ;-)By the way, R, Von Gladden is the original name of the Smallwoods. She's saying Matthew wrote one or more of them.

vosblacknight said...

Ok I'm reaching back into the caverns of my memory, I think I read some of Von Gladdens work back in the days of The Squire :) My vote is 1 and 3 are Matthew and 2 is Keats!

Anonymous said...

Amy Lane said...
The poems are hard. I almost wonder if all of them are VG's?? But I think that would not be as much fun for you, so.... I think that #2 is your own, and I think #1 is as well. I think that #3 may be Keats, and if not - good job!!!!!

Lydia said...

Sooooo.... when are u gonna tell us??

Esther said...

See the winners in "poetry contest".