Keats Test

This test is designed to get you focused on the key questions you will need to ask yourself at the start of an exam essay. For each question you should try to think of three or four poems that you could use in your answer, those which are the most relevant and that can be used to illustrate several points. You also need to come up with an 'angle' on the question that will enable you to develop an interesting argument: perhaps an unusual interpretation or a way of putting the question in a wider context.

1. The Post-Structuralist Paul de Man, in his introduction to his 'Selected Poetry of John Keats' declared that '..in reading Keats [we are] .. reading the work of a man whose experience is literary.. In this case, we are on very safe ground when we derive our understanding primarily from the work itself'.
Do you agree that we don't need to understand the other contexts in which Keats writes in order to appreciate his poetry?

The poems I would use to answer this questions are:

 

My line of argument will be:

 

 

2. In a letter to Benjamin Bailey, Keats describes himself as harbouring, with regard to women, 'a gordian complication of feelings, which must take time to unravell' and 'care to keep unravelled'.
Do you think Keats' poetry suggests that his attitude to women is complicated?

The poems I would use to answer this questions are:

 

My line of argument will be:

 

 

3. The Pre-Raphaelite painters of the mid nineteenth century read Keats avidly, seeing him as a poet of sensuous richness and vivid pictorial effects.
Which poems do you think particularly demonstrate these qualities and why?

The poems I would use to answer this questions are:

 

My line of argument will be:

 

 

4. The Victorian critic Arthur Hallam described Keats as a poet of 'sensation' (meaning feeling).
What do you think he meant by this and do you think it is true of Keats' poetry?

The poems I would use to answer this questions are:

 

My line of argument will be:

 

 

5. Keats has been described as the least political of all the Romantic poets.
Do you agree that his poems fail to reflect the political views and events of the time?

The poems I would use to answer this questions are:

 

My line of argument will be:

 

 

6. In a letter to Benjamin Bailey (22nd November 1817) Keats declares: 'I am certain of nothing but of the holiness of the Heart's affections and the truth of the Imagination.'
What do you consider to be the role of the Imagination in Keats' poetry?

The poems I would use to answer this questions are:

 

My line of argument will be:

 

 

 



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