The Stylistic Development of Keats

The Stylistic Development of Keats

The Stylistic Development of Keats

The Stylistic Development of Keats

Excerpt

This study is twofold in its purpose: it seeks to give a precise description of the unfolding and development of a great poet's stylistic craftsmanship, and it also attempts to ally this technical progression with the changing bents of mind which gave it rise and direction.

In accordance with these aims, the metrical sections of this analysis are written with the hope of throwing additional light upon Keats's general stylistic development rather than of making any specific contribution to the science of English metrics per se. Since the time when the followers of Joshua Steele Prosodia Rationalis (1779)--Thelwall and Odell, Richard Roe and James Chapman--established the "bar-and-rest school" of English metrists, prosodists have occasionally abandoned traditional modes of scansion and employed their own means of dividing the line. It is certainly true that recent attempts of this sort are hardly to be classed, for example, with Steele's division of the first line of Paradise Lost into

Of / man's / first diso / bedience / and the / fruit;

and there is ground for the contention that the metrical subtleties which ordinarily elude orthodox designation can be more precisely expressed, if not so easily grasped, by a language constructed for the occasion. But the aims of this study, and the belief that criticism has little justification unless it is cast in a form which can readily communicate, have necessitated a more traditional approach, and also, I may add, a certain amount of general repetition. I have assumed the existence of metrical feet; patterns of versification have been considered almost wholly on that assumption, with the belief that, where conscious, they were treated in this way by Keats; and an attempt has been made to employ, wherever possible, the most customary terminology. I should add that, in accordance with the practice of some of the older prosodists, I have simply used the sign (◡ + ́) to indicate a syllable which is not completely unstressed but . . .

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