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LIT 4930.001
Appreciating Poetry

Fall 2004
Time: Monday and Wednesday
11:00am - 12:15 pm
Room: CPR 348

Class 14

Reading Assignment: Romance and the longer poem

    Fall of Hyperion: A Dream (435-449)

    DUE: Group B: Post 7

    Fall of Hyperion: A Dream

    Class Objectives:

  • Study of longer poems -- Keats' development of style/range

  • Study of aesthetic -- articulation of Keats' ideals in his letter -- applied to his own works

  • Study of themes -- the relationship between knowledge and human suffering, tension between desire and illusion, the role of beauty

    The readings for this week are longer and more poetically complex works than we have read thus far. Take the time to understand each piece. We will be concentrating our discussion on two or three: Eve of St. Agnes, and either Lamia or The Fall of Hyperion, depending upon the group's interest.

    I have not assigned Hyperion: A Fragment in the interest of time, but it is important that you are aware of it. Together, the four poems for this week (including The Fall of Hyperion for Wednesday) fall into natural pairs -- Hyperion and The Fall of Hyperion are both fragments in an epic style, both narrating the fall of the Titans, with the latter being a dream vision reworking of the former. As fragments, neither poem offers a satisfying aesthetic closure, but both demonstrate Keats' skill and impressive thoughtfulness.

    The Eve of St. Agnes and Lamia are both tales of romance, an interest that reflects Keats' longstanding fascination with Spenser and Hunt and other representatives of that form. Here, however, the style is markedly free of the sentimentalism of earlier Keats, as the poet applies the Grecian objectivity of his epic practice to his familiar genre. The romances appeal to me more in terms of the rich style, while the epic affords more philosophical speculation. What do you think?

    Reading Notes and Discussion Questions


    The Fall of Hyperion. A Dream

    Written mid july 1819 -- given up c 21 September -- though Keats probably tinkered with it after that. Published in 1856.

    In this poem the problems associated with illusion and reality move to a broader plane of conception, what might be considered the "ceaseless effort of individuals, and of generations of individuals . . . to come to terms with reality or to avoid it -- the hungry effort to bring the self into harmony with such reality as we can glimpse ("truth") or to bend reality to the heart's desire" (Bate 586). Examine.

    Note the major differences between Keats' earlier treatment of the Hyperion myth and this dream vision. What changes has he made? What is the significance?

    How does this poem represent the figure of the poet? What are his characteristics? Strengths? Weaknesses?

    What is the relationship between the poetry of the past and the poets of the future?

    In this poem we return to Keats' preoccupation between sleep and poetry. How are the two related here? What is the distinction between the sleeper and the visionary? What do visionary, dreamer and poet have in common?

    How is the style different from the original Hyperion?

    Bate notes a change in idiom that focuses the poem in a calm, mellow, quiet "sharp concentration of empathy on bodily functions that reminds us of the Shakespeare of Hamlet . . . . Mirroring all of these qualities, the versification avoids the packed, phonetic concentation of the poems from Hyperion through the Eve of St. Agnes to the odes. The elaborate use of the vowel interplay that we noticed earlier is almost as absent here as in Lamia" (602-3). What other changes can you find that create this sense of mellowness?

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