Poor fellow, Certain Parties have been attacking him lately with undue cause.
To begin with, I think it’s appropriate to utilize a passage from Lewis’ “The Four Loves:”
“[The human mind]…wants to make every distinction a distinction of value; hence those fatal critics who can never point out the differing quality of two poets without putting them in an order of preference as fi they were candidates for a prize. We must do nothing of the sort about the pleasures.”
I do not deny that Dickinson is an excellent poet, but I prefer to follow Lewis’ maxim of properly appreciating the differences between the poets.
Consider this passage:
“I stood tip-toe upon a little hill,
The air was cooling, and so very still…”
Can’t you feel the exhiliration and quiet sense of adventure in that?
“Linger awhile upon some bending planks
That lean against a streamlet’s rushy banks,
And watch intently Nature’s gentle doings:
They will be found softer than ring-dove’s cooings. “
Isn’t this a true CM concept, watching intently Nature’s doings?
“The poetry of earth is never dead:
When all the birds are faint with the hot sun,
And hide in cooling trees, a voice will run
From hedge to hedge about the new-mown mead; “
Again, don’t you sense the scene he is describing? Don’t all the hot suns, cooling trees and running bird voices that you have experienced come instantly to mind when reading this passage? He has taken a moment of quiet human ecstasy and crystallized it into words.
As for the accusation that Emily Dickinson really reflected whereas Keats just “sat down and thought about writing a great poem” (paraphrased): Has the author of this accusation considered the fact that Dickinson lived a full thirty years longer than Keat did? He died of consumption before he reached the age of 26; Dickinson passed away when she was 56. Certainly, 56 is not an “old” or “ancient” age, but it’s a lot more living than is afforded to someone who died at age 26. Don’t you think that Keats perhaps felt the pressure to see and write as much as possible before the merciless consumption took him? He actually gives us evidence of this in one of his poems (published posthumously):
“WHEN I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has glean’d my teeming brain,
Before high piled books, in charact’ry,
Hold like rich garners the full-ripen’d grain;
When I behold, upon the night’s starr’d face,
Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
And think that I may never live to trace
Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance;
And when I feel, fair creature of an hour!
That I shall never look upon thee more,
Never have relish in the faery power
Of unreflecting love! – then on the shore
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think
Till Love and Fame to nothingness do sink”
Yes, he had a teeming brain. A teeming brain that was not allowed the luxury of much time for reflection, but only time to write, write and write.
~ The HeadGirl, who didn’t realize how much she really loved Keats until she wrote this 🙂