Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Most Influential Poet: John Keats

I discovered Keats as a sophomore; he still speaks to my heart almost twenty years later. It's been a beautiful day of firsts for me, so I wanted to spread the joy around. I can think of no better way to accomplish that than to leave you with the words of a magnificent poet. Here are my favorite three stanzas (out of eight) from "Ode to a Nightingale."

MY heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains
One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk:
'Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,
But being too happy in thine happiness,
That thou, light-wingèd Dryad of the trees,
In some melodious plot
Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,
Singest of summer in full-throated ease.


Darkling I listen; and, for many a time
I have been half in love with easeful Death,
Call'd him soft names in many a musèd 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!
Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain—
To thy high requiem become a sod.


Forlorn! the very word is like a bell
To toll me back from thee to my sole self!
Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so well
As she is famed to do, deceiving elf.
Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades
Past the near meadows, over the still stream,
Up the hill-side; and now 'tis buried deep
In the next valley-glades:
Was it a vision, or a waking dream?
Fled is that music:—do I wake or sleep?

Do you have a poet (or poem) that influenced you or gave you strength or made you laugh?


Diane Gallant said...

I love "Dover Beach" by Matthew Arnold and "The Journey of the Magi" by T.S. Eliot.

Anonymous said...

Probably Tennyson, for me, particularly the poem Ulysses, which contains the following lines:
"Life piled on life were all too little"
And, "all experience is an arch wherethrough/gleams that untravelled world whose margin fades forever and forever as I move..."
But I also love Dylan Thomas and Gerard Manley Hopkins (The Terrible Sonnets).

Anonymous said...

I love poems and quotes. Life just wouldn't be as rich without them, and it's always so hard to choose.

Two of my all-time favorites:

"Hitch your wagon to a star."
Ralph Waldo Emerson.

"How does the meadow-flower its bloom unfold?
Because the lovely little flower is free
Down to its root, and in that freedom bold."

Wordsworth. A Poet! He hath Put His Heart to School.

Your blog is wonderful.


Alex Moore said...

thanks, Em:) welcome...

Inland Empire Girl said...

Thanks for reminding me of Keats. I will have to go back and reread him. Since this seemed to be my summer to explore poetry, right now it is "Let Evening Come" by Jane Kenyon. I just read her husband Donald Hall's moving memoir The Best Day The Worst Day about her illness and death and I understand this poem much better.