Hellenism in Keats’s Poetry“Ode to Autumn”By Mehwish Rana
Fascination for Greek• Dissatisfaction of the poets with sordid andmaterialistic life of 19th c.• Desired pagan and Greek rather than remain aChristian lost in dirty games of money.• This desire expressed in his sonnet The World isto much with usGreat God, I’d rather be,A pagan suckled in a creed outwornSo might I standing on the pleasant leaHave glimpse that would make me less forlorn.Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea,Or hear old Triton blowing his wreathed horn.
Keats wrote to J. H. Reynolds : I long tofeast upon old Homer as we have uponShakespeare .. . If you understood Greek, andwould read me passages, now and then,explaining their meaning, t would be, from itsmistiness, perhaps a greater luxury thanreading the thing ones self.‘Hellenic spirit out come of three forces:literature, sculpture and inborn temperament.
Familiarizing sources• Lempiras “Classical Dictionary”. Gods andGoddesses of Greek mythology.• Chapman’s Homer.• Elgin Marbles Parthenon.“essential kinship with the thought ofGreece” Selincourt.
Hellenic features in Keats’s Poetry• Love for beauty and spontaneous .• Pagan delight in nature.• Delight in physical side of life.• Personifying nature. (beauty and shapeliness)• Perfection of the loveliness.• Subjects of old Greek writers.• Simplicity and directness of expression.• Concrete imagery.“a thing of beauty is a joy forever”.....sense ofbeauty overcomes every other consideration.
• Combined romanticism with Greek.• Lovers of beauty.• Expression of beauty aim of all art.• Exclusively physical, intellectual or spiritualbut fullest developed.
Ode to Autumn• Personifying autumn.• Giving life to inanimate objects.• Creates concrete figures.• Keen observation and detailed pictures.• Passion rather than action and adventure.• Does not bring personal feelings to it– objectivityof the Greek.• Romantic atmosphere with Greek background.• Paints picture– looking at a painting in art gallerythat gives multiple perceptions on each look.
Hellenism in 1st Stanza• Opens with the Greek tradition of invoking the muse.• Praises the beauty of autumn.• Autumn – beneficent, ripens fruits, bends, fills, plumps,sets budding, loads with fruit etc.• Sun – life provider.• Sun and Autumn as deities working together for theworking of the universe and giving it motion.• Bees – like humans.• Appreciates the fullness of the season.• Beauties and bounties.• Natural process.
Hellenism in 2nd Stanza• Autumn personified: harvester, tired reaper,gleaner and cider presser.• It is a female.• An embodiment of earthly paradise.• “close bosom friend” of sun. Suggesting aconjugal process resulting in life on earth.• “hair soft lifted by winnowing wind” praisingfeminine beauty.• Painting pictures.• Statuesque effect.
Hellenism in 3rd Stanza• Completeness• Perfection.• Music of gnats, crickets, lambs is like a song ata funeral of hero/God.• Ends like an epic.• Idea of transience and immortality.
• Greek art is immortal on account of becoming asubstitute for the world of nature as an agencyproviding shelter against extreme human misery.• Loves nature for her physical charm.• no ethical meaning or spiritual significanceattached to nature.• Personifies objects of nature and calls them bytheir mythological names. (sun Apollo, dryads inwoods, Cynthia is moon etc)• Uses imagination o take us back to the past butreturns to the reality looking at it with a positivemood.