Thursday, March 18, 2010


Yesterday Peter wrote a post about how DeQuincey was caught in an abstraction, and though he first seeks to leave the body, he eventually tries to regain himself within his body again. This just seemed very interesting when compared to Keats, who wanted desperately to remain within himself and continue to write, but has also had a very intimate relationship with death all of his life.

Being the assistant to a surgeon, he must have constantly been around death, and not only death, but bloody, REAL death. Then, later, when he discovers that he has tuberculosis, that death becomes very personal once again. Because of all these connections, he vacillates between the desire to live and the desire to die, much as DeQuincey is caught in a world where he wants both abstraction and to find his body again. I feel like this point is shown when we look at Ode to a Nightingale. Although he is jealous of the nightingale for being able to live on while he cannot, Death to him seems something familiar. He writes, how recently he has become almost intimate with Death:
"I have been half in love with easeful Death,
Call'd him soft names in many a mused rhyme,
To take into the air my quiet breath;
Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
To cease upon the midnight with no pain,
While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad
In such an ecstasy! "

I think the interesting contradiction here is that the joy in life makes him want to keep living, but at the same time, right now his soul is in such ecstasy that he can die. So does happiness make us want to stay alive or does it make us feel ok to die? Also, I feel like because he has been around death so much, although he regrets that it is coming early, he has always been fascinated by it, and is willing to die if it means being able to let go of all of things that have made his life complicated or hard.
I think one

1 comment:

  1. I think that Keats feels that happiness makes us want feel comfortable to die. However, this relationship with death, like joy, is fleeting. To be comfortable with death is to be uncomfortable with living. Death is to Keats an escape from the hardships of life, so that would indicate that happiness would make him want to continue to live. However, Keats knows that happiness only lasts for a short time, and to die in at peace instead of in anguish can give a person an eternal sense of peace and happiness which isn't the case in life.