UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Keats and the dynamics of form Tiefensee, Dianne


Of the many topics which have fascinated Keats's readers, three are remarkable for the continuing disputes they incite: the cause and nature of the prodigious and rapid development through which Keats firmly established himself in the ranks of great English poets in such an incredibly short time; Milton's influence on the Hyperion poems; and the origins of the distinctive Keatsian ode. The rapidity and extensiveness of Keats's development can be partially attributed to the process of discovery through writing which renders his earlier works the most important influence upon his later work. His ideas and his craftsmanship developed in tandem, enabling him to combine and alter traditional forms to suit his unique purposes — as, for example, he combines and modifies ode and sonnet forms to create odes which are innovative and unique. Nevertheless, Keats could not have soared to the heights he did in the short time he had, had Milton not preceded him. Although poets and dramatists have always reworked their predecessors' material in original ways, it was only from Milton that Keats could have learned not only to select appropriate traditional forms, but, also, to combine and modify those forms, and to adapt lyric forms as foundations upon which to build the blank verse of The Fall of Hyperion. Hence, Keats's process of development, his ode form, and the influence of Milton are integrally related, in fact, interdependent, and actually cannot be separated. However, to avoid repetition, I propose to discuss first Keats's growth in craftsmanship as it manifests itself in his development of the Keatsian ode, and then, to discuss Milton's influence on the Hyperion poems, particularly the ways in which Milton provides the model from which Keats effects startling changes in the blank verse of The Fall of Hyperion as compared to that of Hyperion — changes which are most dramatic in the segments which appear to be transposed directly from Hyperion.

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