John Keats - Revision Activity

Letters, Poems and Issues- Keats's body of work as an entity

It is possible to see Keats's legacy as a fairly neat, self-contained and harmonious package whereby his ideas, concerns and philosophy are expressed repeatedly through letters and poems. This is partly a consequence of Keats dying so young and therefore producing a relatively small body of work over a short period of time: partly because he was such a prolific letter writer and used those letters to rehearse and work through his ideas so that his poetic concerns become quite transparent.

To see his work in this way does not in any way beltittle, or reduce his legacy; just because an idea finds repeated expression in a poet's work doesn't make the concept being expored any less complicated, philosophical or significant. Indeed the paradoxical nature of most of his ideas means that they remain problematic, and Keats remains one of the most important poets in the English language due to his expert and beautiful use of words to explore and express these enigmas.

As a literature student, you'll find that linking Keats' central ideas through his letters and poems is a useful exercise, and good preparation for a closed book examination. If you can move beyond similarities to trace inconsistancies and contradictions too, so much the better. Try and determine how his ideas on Truth and Beauty change as he gets older.

Gather together a collection of some of the more important letters that Keats wrote. Source them, cut them out, and then stick them onto a sheet of A3 with cross-references to as many of his poems as possible. You need to make sure your chosen poetic references are brief, pertinent, and providing opportunity for language analysis. Lastly, label the various grouping according to the theme, or concern that they relate to.

Try to pack the A3 sheet with as much detail as possible. In particular, look for 'Quotable quotes', that you will realistically be able to remember.



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