Notes on Endymion by John Keats

Language features

Neologisms - Keats will quite often make up words - e.g 'surgy' line 121 and 'adventuresome' line 58.
Archaisms - Keats often includes words that were no longer in common usage in 19th century England. e.g 'shent' and 'sith'
Medical diction - Keats's medical background is apparent in most of the longer poems, in his use of words referring to symptoms or bodily fuctions.
Compound epithet - an adjectival phrase - the use of this is common in the early poetry e.g 'ebon tipped' line 147, 'rain scented' line 100, 'copse-clad' line 120, 'light-hung' line 119.

Keats's use of the personal pronoun in the third stanza suggests that he is still wrestling with his role and ambition in relation to poetry. Frequent use of rhetorical questions and exclamations in the second book gives the poetry an imploring and desperate air.

This poem is influenced by the conventions of epic poetry, with its use of epithet and sections of a grand and ceremonious style. Keats admired Milton's Paradise Lost, although he does not imitate his verse form (Milton's epic does not rhyme- it is written in blank verse)

Keats also rejects the idea of 'in medias res' (another opic convention) - a phrase to describe a story that starts in the middle of the narrative at some exciting point.

John Wilson Croker criticised Keats's use of language in Endymion in the Quarterly Review.
"We are told that 'turtles passion their voices'; that 'an arbour was nested' and a lady's locks 'gordian up'; and to supply the place of nouns thus verbalised by Mr. Keats, with great fecundity, spawns new ones; such as 'men-slugs and human serpentary'; the 'honey-feel of bliss'; 'wives prepare needments' - and so forth.

Croker believed that such usages prevented him from being part of the elite centre of the nation's true culture. Croker is rejecting Keats because he is not conforming to the world of end-stopped couplets and prescriptive grammar.

Keats' Kingdom 2004 -