Similarities and Dissimilarities Between Shelley and Keats

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  • Topic: Romanticism, Percy Bysshe Shelley, John Keats
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  • Published : May 3, 2010
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Similarities and dissimilarities

Though P. B. Shelley and John Keats were mutual friends, but they have possessed the diversified qualities in their creativity. These two are the great contributors of English Literature, though their lifecycle were very short. Their comparison are also little with each other, while each are very much similar in thoughts, imagination, creation and also their lifetime.

01) Attitude towards the Nature
P. B. Shelley:
Whereas older Romantic poets looked at nature as a realm of communion with pure existence and with a truth preceding human experience, the later Romantics looked at nature primarily as a realm of overwhelming beauty and aesthetic pleasure. While Wordsworth and Coleridge often write about nature in itself, Shelley tends to invoke nature as a sort of supreme metaphor for beauty, creativity, and expression. This means that most of Shelley's poems about art rely on metaphors of nature as their means of expression: the West Wind in "Ode to the West Wind" becomes a symbol of the poetic faculty spreading Shelley's words like leaves among mankind, and the skylark in "To a Skylark" becomes a symbol of the purest, most joyful, and most inspired creative impulse. The skylark is not a bird, it is a "poet hidden."

John Keats:
Keats’s sentiment of Nature is simpler than that of other romantics. He remains absolutely influenced by the Pantheism of Wordsworth and P. B. Shelley. It was his instinct to love and interpret Nature more for her own sake, and less for the sake of the sympathy which the human mind can read into her with its own workings and aspirations. Keats is the poet of senses, and he loves Nature because of her sensual appeal, her appeal to the sense of sight, the sense of hearing, the sense of smell, the sense of touch.

Both men were great lovers of nature, and an abundance of their poetry is filled with nature and the mysterious magnificence it holds. Their attitudes towards the Nature are slightly difference. P. B. Shelley treats the natural objects as the supreme elements of inspiring him. Natural elements are successfully glorified by Shelley. He worships Nature and wants some of power from nature to enrich his poetical power to transmit his message to the people in this older world. On the other hand Keats treats nature as an observer, as a traveler. He finds interest to appreciate the physical beauty of Nature. Both writers happened to compose poems concerning autumn in the year of 1819, and although the two pieces contain similar traits of the Romantic period, they differ from each other in several ways as well. Keats' poem "To Autumn" and Shelley's poem "Ode to the West Wind" both contain potent and vivacious words about the season and both include similar metaphors involving autumn. However, the feelings each writer express in their pieces vary greatly from each other, and Keats and Shelley address nature in their poems with different intentions as well. Shelley and Keats exhibit their genius for rich energized word use within these two poems wonderfully. Also, interesting similarities between the two pieces are some of the metaphors the poets implement. Hair is a subject both writers explored as ametaphor for nature. Shelley, in "Ode to the West Wind," claims the wind is "like the bright hair uplifted from the head/ Of some fierce Maenad," while Keats views autumn as "sitting careless on a granary floor,/ Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind." Hair, often used in poetry metaphorically, tends to symbolize feminine beauty and strength; in this case, both poets make use of thesubject of hair when describing certain aspects of nature. The speakers in these two poems also express their thoughts on theportent of the coming spring. In the final couplet of Shelley's poem, the speaker asks, "Oh wind,/ if Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?" The speaker in Keats' poem inquires, "Where are the songs of spring? Ay, where are they?" Both poets look upon autumn...
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