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An Exploration Of The Poems Of Keats English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1329 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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John Keats was an English poet who was born and died in 31st October 1795 – 23rd February 1821. He died of tuberculosis at a very young age but produced some amazing poetry in his time. He was one of the main figures of the Romantic Movement and along with Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley he was one of the second generation Romantic poets. Keats’s poetry was characterised by elaborate word choice and sensual imagery. His poems remain among the most popular poems in English literature.

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All three of these poems relate and they all contain imagery of beauty of the earth and nature. This may have been due to the fact that Keats was part of the “Romantics” along with William Blake, William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, George Gordon or sometimes known as Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley. John Keats is very good at the effect of imagery as when you read his poems a visual picture is created in your mind. Also he uses onomatopoeia to create sound within the poem though this effect is mainly within “To Autumn”. An example of this is at the end of To Autumn on line 33 “and gathering swallows twitter in the skies” which not only is an onomatopoeia but also it shows the beauty of nature and the season of autumn. This poem is full of these features and this gives the poem life making you think and also maybe remember if you have experienced the same in your lifetime.

As well as sensory imagery Keats has used many different techniques in all his writing for example alliteration, enjambment, metaphors, emotive language, repetition, personification and onomatopoeia.

I found the poem above called “To the Nile” and the first thing that caught my eyes was “pyramid and crocodile!” I realised that in nature respects it was very similar to the other two poems I am studying but it was about a completely different topic which I thought might be a good change. “To Autumn” and “La Belle Dame sans Merci” are both about autumn, weather, England etc so Egypt with the strong sun was as far from it. The Nile is personified. It is praised as a beautiful river having a great effect on nature due to the river helping the surrounding land with water to help everything grow and flourish.

“To Autumn” is a beautiful poem describing all the joys of nature and describing a day with the “maturing sun” and how the air is “drows’d with the fume of poppies”. When I was reading it I thought that it may relate to his death as he is relating it to his life and he says that he is in autumn and winter is the end/death and he knows he is near his death bed. This is due to tuberculosis which most of his family had suffered from. To Autumn contains many onomatopoeia’s for example “flowers for the bees” giving the zzz sound in the word bees which creates the effect that the bees are in the same room. Also “oozing” creating an overflowing thought as you read it. Keats creates many sounds and gives a visual picture of what he is talking about by including many techniques such as onomatopoeia, personification, For example “To autumn” which is saying it is written two somebody called autumn or possibly the sun which conspires together and this is how plants get their energy. Also there are examples of alliteration for example “clammy cells” or “hours by hours”. The way he uses all of these techniques and the colourful picture he portrays shows why his poems remain among the most popular poems in English literature. I think that in this poem Keats is saying that he regrets that he did not make the most of the days of summer and all that is on offer “full-grown lamb’s loud bleat from hilly bourn”. This is also onomatopoeia because is it expressing sounds.

“La Belle Dame Sans Merci” translates as the beautiful woman with no mercy. This is shown in the poem in lines 35 to 48. The emotive language used by Keats shows the suffering. Words like “ail”, “lily”, “haggard” and “woebegone”. He has used the poem as a metaphor for his life and here he has used flowers to link his love for nature with his health for example “Lily on thy brow” on line 9. A lily is the flower which presents death but is also links to nature which is continued throughout the poem. Another example of using flowers for the link is “a fading rose” on line 11. This means the rose which is normally a very bright colour very often red is dying because as flowers die they lose their colour and the whole flower weakens and the flower head falls down to face the ground rather than stay up straight due to the loss of water and nutrients which normally keeps a flower alive. He says the rose is fading so this translates to the fact that he is also dying and losing health day by day.

This poem is a very sad poem which is the complete opposite of To Autumn because it is talking about how he loses the love of his life which could be referring to his life and that the woman that he is slowly losing is relating to his life and how his life due to his condition of tuberculosis is fading away and slipping from his hands. Another interpretation of this poem is that he is relating the poem to Fanny Brawne who during his life time was the love of his life. They met when Keats moved house and ended up being fanny’s next door neighbour after the death of Tom Keats (his brother). Keats had a complete undying love for this woman however this did not bring fulfilled happiness for him. If it is about a woman but not fanny then it may be about a fantasy woman that he is seduced by “she took me to her elfin grot” “there she wept and sigh’d full sore” but then as death approached this dream is pulled away from him by his illness and death.

The love is showed in this poem by the things that he does for her “I made her a garland for her head” and she “found me roots of relish sweet”. These two quotes are showing how much he loved her and how they were exchanging gifts to one another to portray their love for each other.

In both “To Autumn” and “La Belle Dame Sans Merci” Keats talks about sweetness. In La Belle Dame Sans Merci “roots of relish sweet” and her “elfin grot” which are two great examples of the sweetness portrayed. In “To Autumn” however you can hear the “full-grown lamb’s loud bleat from the hilly bourn” and “all its twinèd flowers”. These are very helpful to make the poem flow and so create a soft lullaby feeling which makes you want to read on.

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To the Nile is a sonnet because it has 14 lines. Sonnets are very short and are a compressed version of a poem. They contain many ideas in a small space and this means it is quite a powerful way of portraying an idea. To autumn there is a consistent rhyme scheme of A, B, A, B, C, D, C, D etc however La Belle Dan Sans Merci does not have any rhyme scheme.

To conclude I think that Keats was a very powerful poet. He expressed his feelings in his writing and although he did not live long due to tuberculosis he produced some outstanding work. He moved to Italy in 1820 with a friend called Joseph Severn due to his condition and the doctor had advised to his that he needed to get away from London air. This change of country prolonged his life “alone and palely loitering”. Through studying the three poems that I have used in this essay I have realised the strength in each of the poems and the feelings Keats was trying to portray. I found that all three poems linked in many ways and I now have a much clearer understanding of each of these poems.


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