Sunday, 18 July 2010

John Keats

I think my surprising and new-found enjoyment of a very limited amount of poetry ends past Keats on my reading list. (I started into Whitman and remembered why I find it all incomprehensible and annoying.)  Keats is a bit like Poe in that it's just messed up!  Well, let me edit that a bit.  I've only read two of his poems, Lamia and Isabella... but they were both incredibly messed up.  They're both narrative poems, which, I'm finding, is pretty much the only way to keep me interested in a poem.  The history of poetic forms class I'm going to be taking in the fall is going to be fun.... in the way that fun isn't fun at all.  Necessary evil though... at least I think it is.

This poem seems a bit less twisted after I read about the actual myth of Lamia, but I still find it incredibly random.  Here's the text from Project Gutenberg.  It starts off with a bit about Hermes looking for a nymph and finding Lamia, who is apparently a child-eating demon, in the form of a serpent.  He sets her free, and a boy from Corinth, Lycius, falls in love with her.  They hide what I'm pretty sure was a giant house that Lamia made out of magic, cause I got the feeling it hadn't been there before she arrived.  She doesn't want to meet Lycius's master and avoids meeting anybody until their wedding.  At the feast, Lycius's master exposes her and Lycius dies of surprise? grief? I just thought it was twisted with the connection between Lycius and the man who exposed Lamia, at their wedding, and ended up killing him.  It's far less random knowing the myth that inspired it, but I didn't look that up till afterward.

Whatever inspired Isabella, I still put it up there with some of the best of Poe's for twisted, gross, and random.  Isabella is a rich woman who is supposed to be married off to someone else rich, but she falls in love with one of her brothers' workers.  Her brothers finds out and kills the worker, burying him in a grove.  Lorenzo's ghost comes to Isabella and guides her to where his body is.  She digs up his head and takes it back with her.  She puts it in a basil pot and obsesses and mourns over the pot, and the plant grows really well.  Her brothers steal the pot, dig up Lorenzo's head, and recognize him.  They leave, I suppose in fear of their crime being discovered, and Isabella asks incessantly for her basil pot from inanimate objects.  She then dies.  Here's the text.  It's pretty short.

I don't know what I'd consider those poems, but romantic doesn't really describe it.  I guess I don't understand what people consider romantic.  I enjoy them, but I really really don't see "romantic" as a good descriptor.

I tried to read Endymion, which is another of his famous poems, but it's really long, and it's really sing-songy.  The rhymes are horrible, and the meter is just annoying... and overall it's just distracting.  Maybe it gets better as it goes, but after two pages I couldn't stand to read it any more.  I'll get to it if I have to at some point, but it's not something I'd read for pleasure.

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