Consuming Keats: Nineteenth-Century Representations in Art by S. Wootton

By S. Wootton

This e-book explores the influence of Keats on authors and artists from 1821 to the tip of the 1st international battle. It examines the paintings of authors together with Shelley, Browning and Thomas corridor Caine, and artists Holman Hunt and Rossetti. The learn additionally comprises tributes to Keats by means of girls authors and artists similar to Christina Rossetti and Jessie Marion King.

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Throughout ‘Popularity’, Browning laments the obscurity of an immortal talent, ‘few or none to watch and wonder’ (22), yet the poem could be commemorating any one of the ‘inheritors of unfulfilled renown’ referred to in ‘Adonais’ (397). At the beginning of ‘Popularity’, Keats resides in the heavens, yet his ‘star quality’ is stifled through an enforced incarceration: ‘His [God’s] clenched hand shall unclose at last, / I know, and let out all the beauty’ (11–12). Keats is but a ‘glow-worm’ to the Almighty, a creature of the lower echelons of the creative order (reminiscent of the parasites that feed on the subject’s corpse in ‘Adonais’, 6).

The figure of Adonis rationalises both the devastation of human loss and the sterility of the land. Embedded within Shelley’s ‘Adonais’, therefore, is a reconciliation to what has passed, or in poetic terms the ‘past’, and the acceptance of a forward-looking focus, a new life to tend and celebrate. The new life is not, however, that of Keats. The subject may be synonymous with the figure of Adonis and his regenerative potential, but Shelley adopts a rival role in Dionysus that also signifies regrowth and authorial potency.

The speaker of ‘The Pyramid of Cestius’ resembles a spectral presence which echoes the depiction of Keats in this poem; the poetic voice is insubstantial and unsure of his role. The position of the Self has been irrevocably undermined. From this point onwards, twentieth-century elegies will recognise Keats as a source of inspiration rather than a poetic rite-of-passage. The only true constant in this chapter has been the poetic act, the impulse to elegise the predecessor. Nineteenthcentury Keats-based elegy is not ultimately dictated by the dead, which has de-prioritised the primacy of the living author, but by a successive and undiminished rebirth in literature.

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