Suggested essay titles based upon John Keats' letters:
Keats wrote: 'but I dare say you have read this and all the other beautiful Tales which have come down from the ancient times of that beautiful Greece'
Discuss the use that Keats makes of Greek mythology. You should refer to one of the longer poems or a selection of shorter ones.
Keats wrote in a letter to Benjamin Bailey: 'I am certain of nothing but of the holiness of the Heart's affections and the truth of the Imagination'
How does Keats explore these ideas in his 'Selected Poems'?
In a letter, Keats wrote, '...and let us open our leaves like a flower and be passive and receptive'
How far do you consider these ideas to be reflected through his poetry?
Keats wrote in a letter to Fanny Brawne: 'I have two luxuries to brood over in my walks; your loveliness and the hour of my death.'
How are these themes explored in his poems and how are they related to each other?
Keats wrote: 'I have been reading over a part of a short poem I have composed lately called 'Lamia'- and I am sure there is that sort of fire in it which must take hold of people in some way- give them either pleasant or unpleasant sensation. What they want is a sensation of some sort'
Do you agree with Keats' view about readers' expectations of poetry and his assessment of 'Lamia'?
Keats wrote: '...death is the great divorcer forever'
Look at how death is explored in Keats' 'Selected Poems'
In a letter to a friend (8th October 1917) Keats wrote: 'Do not the lovers of poetry like to have poems where they make, pick and choose, in which images are so numerous that many are forgotten and found new in second reading'
How far do Keats' selected poems reflect these ideas about poetry?
Keats believed that 'poetry should surprise by a fine excess'. What evidence have you found in this selection of 'surprise' and 'fine excess'?
In your answer either analyse in detail one of his poems or a substantial extract from one of his longer poems or range widely across a number of poems in the selection.
Selected Poems - John Keats (Penguin Poetry Library, ed. Barnard)
How far do the poems of Keats in this selection show the interest of the Romantic poets in 'nostalgia, intoxicating dreams and sweet and bitter melancholy'?
You may, if you wish, concentrate on one or two of these interests as illustrated in Keats' poetry or address all three.
Keats believed that a poet should command 'the knowledge of contrast, and the feeling for light and shade'.
How far does the poetry of Keats reflect this belief? You may, if you wish, refer in detail to two or three of his poems or range more widely through the selection.
The use of allegory and symbolism is a common feature in later Romantic poetry. How important is Keats' use of allegory and symbolism in this Selection?
Romantic poets were said to reject worldliness and the vulgar material world because of their heightened sensitivity. How far is this description true of Keats in this Selection?
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