The True Voice of Feeling: John Keats
Keats came to the problem of poetic form without any of the philosophical equipment of either Coleridge or Wordsworth: came to it and came nearer to solving it in terms of conscious poetic technique. To such a statement I would like to add this preliminary qualification: when we accuse Keats of a lack of philosophical equipment we are not expressing a qualitative judgment. Keats had something infinitely more rare and precious than a trained discursive faculty--something which we must be content to call innate wisdom. Wisdom is of general scope, and the fact that on the present occasion we are going to adjust our focus to a technical matter should not blind us to the fact that the light Keats sheds on our problem is part of a wider beam. There never was an English poet, save Shakespeare, who had so instinctive a grasp of poetic realities: of the function of poetry in the life of the mind. In his short life he had no time to solve the formal problem, but the story of his experiment is full of interest. The texts, which come from his Letters, are almost too well-known to be repeated, but it would be rash to assume that their significance has been exhausted. The most important of them comes from a letter of 27 February, 1818, written to John Taylor, to whom he had sent the proofs of the newly-written Endymion:
'It is a sorry thing for me that any one should have to overcome Prejudices in reading my Verses--that affects me more than any hypercriticism on any particular Passage. In Endymion
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Publication information: Book title: The True Voice of Feeling:Studies in English Romantic Poetry. Contributors: Herbert Read - Author. Publisher: Patheon Books. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1953. Page number: 55.