Do you think Keats wants to escape from reality? Justify your answer from your study of Keats.
Introduction: An escapist is a person who tries to avoid the hard realities of life and wants to escape from the ideal world. The ideal world is a world of imagination where life is full of enjoyment and free from all difficulties. But John Keats (1795-1821) thinks that life as it helps him to come back to the world of reality.
“Ode to a nightingale”
The poem “Ode to a nightingale” (1819) starts with the effect of Nightingale’s song on the body and heart of the poet. To him, the song of the Nightingale is a symbol of everlasting joy. For this reason, being dissatisfied with the hard realities of real life, he wants to take shelter in the dream forest with the help of Nightingale’s song. In his imaginative forest, he finds all the pleasures and enjoyment that he would like to have in the ideal world. As the poet says-
“That I might drink and leave the world unseen,
And with thee fade away into the forest dim.”
But by the word “forlorn” Keats came back to the world of reality from the world of imagination. Because the poet believes that the world of imagination can shelter us for a short time and it can’t give us the solution to the hard realities of life. In poet’s tongue –
“Forlorn! the very word is like a bell
To toll me back from thee to my sole self.”
“Ode on a Grecian Urn”
In the poem “Ode on a Grecian Urn” (1819) Keats describes the eternal beauty of art and immortalized the objects that have been carved on the Urn. There are pictures of the youth and maiden lovers and beloveds, pipers, trees, etc. The piper is always piping under the tree. The lover on the Urn is always trying to kiss his beloved who is trying to avoid his kiss. In his world of beauty, the lover will never decay and the beloved shall never be fair. The poet says –
“She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss,
Forever wilt thou love and she is fair!”
It is a matter of sorrow that Keats does not escape to the world of the Urn. As he realizes that the world of Urn does not have any organism of life. The lover that is carved on the Urn can’t enjoy the warmth of love that can enjoy in the real world. His lover will remain speechless. Although he is immortal, at the same time he is dead. As a result, the poet once again returns to the real world from the ideal world.
“Ode on melancholy”
In the poem “Ode on melancholy” we find the temporality of beauty. As beauty and joy are the real sources of melancholy. Melancholy can’t be found in the sad and ugly things but in everything that is beautiful and joyful. So, the deepest kind of melancholy can be found in the showers of rain, in the beautiful roses, and in the bright dark eyes of the beloved. Beauty by its nature is short-lived and gives birth to melancholy in the minds of men. The duration of beauty makes men sad and melancholic. Keats has also personified Melancholy as a goddess who dwells with the goddess of Beauty. As the poet says –
“She dwells with Beauty-Beauty that must die.”
At the same time, the goddess of Melancholy and the goddess of Joy are the dwellers in the same temple. The God of Joy always keeps his finger on his lips to bid farewell to his worshipper. In poet’s tongue –
“And Joy whose hand is ever at his lips Bidding adieu.”
Conclusion: In termination, we can say that Keats is not a real escapist. Although he tried to take shelter in the world of imagination which is an ideal world he can’t remain there for a long time and the hard realities make him take shelter there for short time, not for a long time.