John Keats use of symbols in his writings
John Keats use of symbolism to portray his themes in his writings is phenomenal. In the Odes on a Grecian Urn the music and the musician are symbols that represent the beauty of love. The audience can not literally conceive the music but can imagine the music in their minds through the description of the musician playing the pipe. In the Ode to a Nightngale’ Keats use of birds chirping is symbolic of the immortality of art and the mortality of human beings (Blades, 2002; Nagar &Prasad, 2005). The human soul can do less but only imagine of the beauty of the everlasting music of the birds in the forest.
Keat’s description of the natural world is also a symbolic way of expressing the immortality of art. In the Ode to a Nightngale for instance the symbolism of the bird singing in the forest is symbolic of the immortality nature of art. In his ballad La Belle Dame Sans Merci he utilizes natural symbols of nature to represent time and a night who meets and falls in love with a beautiful lady (Chartier & McRae, 2004). His symbolic use of nature is meant to portray the timeless nature of beauty and love.
Keat’s The Eve of St. Agnes one of his best poems ever has also a lot of elements of symbolism. The poem is a description of a ritual girls performed to foresee their future husbands. Keat vividly describes the dream of Madelline as an iced stream depicting that it could not be penetrated by whatever means. Keats description of Porphyro as he appears in Madelline’s dream is symbolic of the imagined lover that Madelline so much wanted to see (Keats, 2009; 2010). A further analysis of Keat’s work will reveal much more of symbol use to bring out the various themes and especially the themes of romance and beauty as well as human mortality.
Blades, J. (2002). John Keats Analysing Texts. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.
Chartier, A. & McRae, J. E. (2004). Alain Chartie: The Quarrel of the Belle Dame Sans Mercy.
London: Taylor & Francis Group.
Keats, J. (2009). Lamia Isabella the Eve of St. Agnes and Other Poems. Charleston: BiblioLife.
Keats, J. (2010). The Eve of St. Agnes (1856). Montana: Kessinger Publishing.
Nagar, A. & Prasad, A. N. (2005). Recritiquing John Keats. New Delhi: Sarup & Sons.
Shmoop. (2010). La Belle Dame Sans Merci: Shmoop Poetry Guide. California: Shmoop