The poets of the Romantic age can be classified into three groups— (i) The Lake School, consisting of Wordsworth, Coleridge and Southey; (ii) The Scott group including Campbell and Moore; and (iii) The group comprising Byron, Shelley, and Keats. The first two groups were distinctly earlier than the third, so we have two eight years flood periods of supremely great poetry, namely 1798-1806 and 1816-1824, separated by a middle period when by comparison creative energy had ebbed.
(a) The Lake Poets
The Lake Poets formed a ‘school’ in the sense that they worked in close cooperation, and their lives were spent partly in the Lake district. Only Wordsworth was born there, but all the three lived there for a shorter or longer period. Linked together by friendship, they were still further united by the mutual ardour of their revolutionary ideas in youth, and by the common reaction which followed in their riper years. They held many of the poetic beliefs in common. Wordsworth and Coleridge lived together for a long time and produced the Lyrical Ballads by joint effort in 1798. They had original genius and what they achieved in the realm of poetry was supported by Southey who himself did not possess much creative imagination. The literary revolution which is associated with their name was accomplished in 1800, when in the second edition of the Lyrical Ballads, Wordsworth and Coleridge explained further their critical doctrines.
Describing the genesis of the poems contained the Lyrical Ballads, Coleridge wrote later in his greatest critical work—Biographia Literaria (1817):
During the first year that Mr. Wordsworth and I were neighbours, our conversation turned frequently on two cardinal points of poetry, the power of exciting the sympathy of the reader by a faithful adherence to the truth of nature, and the power of giving the interest of novelty by the modifying colours of imagination…The thought suggested itself that a series of poems may be composed of two sorts. In the one, the incidents and agents were to be, in part at least, supernatural; and the excellence aimed at was to consist in the interesting of the affections by the dramatic truth of such emotions as would naturally accompany such situations, supposing them real…For the second class, subjects were to be chosen from ordinary life; the characters and incidents, were to be such as will be found in every village and its vicinity, where there is a meditative and feeling mind to seek after them, or to notice them, when they present themselves. In this idea originated the plan of Lyrical Ballads, in which it was agreed that my endeavour should be directed to persons and characters supernatural…Mr. Wordsworth, on the other hand, was to give charm of novelty to things of every day.
This was the framework of the Lyrical Ballads. Regarding the style, Wordsworth explained in the famous preface:
The poems were published which, I hoped, might be of some use to ascertain how far, by fitting to metrical arrangement, a selection of the real language of men in a state of vivid sensation, that sort of pleasure and that quantity of pleasure may be imparted, which a poet may rationally endeavour to impart…Low and rustic life was generally chosen, because in that condition the essential passions of the heart find a better soil in which they can attain their maturity, are less under restraint, and speak a plainer and more emphatic language.
Wordsworth thus registered a protest against the artificial ‘poetic diction’ of the classical school, which was separated from common speech. He declared emphatically: “There is, nor can be, any essential difference between the language of prose and metrical composition.” Thus it was in the spirit of a crusader that Wordsworth entered upon his poetic career. His aim was to lift poetry from its depraved state and restore to it its rightful position.
William Wordsworth (1770-1850) was the greatest poet of the Romantic period. The credit of originating the Romantic movement goes to him. He refused to abide by any poetic convention and rules, and forged his own way in the realm of poetry. He stood against many generations of great poets and critics, like Dryden, Pope and Johnson, and made way for a new type of poetry. He declared: “A poet is a man endowed with more lively sensibility, more enthusiasm and tenderness, who has a greater knowledge of human nature, and a more comprehensive soul, than are supposed to be common among mankind.” The truth of this statement struck down the ideal of literary conventions based on reason and rationality, which had been blindly worshipped for so long. By defining poetry as “the spontaneous overflow of powerful feeling” he revolted against the dry intellectuality of his predecessors. By giving his ideas about the poetic language as simple and natural, he opposed the “gaudiness and inane phraseology” of the affected classical style.
Wordsworth wrote a large number and variety of lyrics, in which he can stir the deepest emotions by the simplest means. There we find the aptness of phrase and an absolute naturalness which make a poem once read as a familiar friend. Language can scarcely be at once more simple and more full of feeling than in the following stanza from one of the ‘Lucy poems’:
Thus Nature spoke—The work was done,
How soon my Lucy’s race was run.
She died, and left to me
This health, this calm, and quiet scene,
The memory of what has been,
And never more will be.
Besides lyrics Wordsworth wrote a number of sonnets of rare merit like To Milton, Westminster Bridge, The World is too much with us, in which there is a fine combination of the dignity of thought and language. In his odes, as Ode to Duty and Ode on the Intimations of Immortality, he gives expression to his high ideals and philosophy of life. In the Immortality Ode, Wordsworth celebrates one of his most cherished beliefs that our earliest intuitions are the truest, and that those are really happy who even in their mature years keep themselves in touch with their childhood:
Hence, in a season of calm weather,
Though inland far we be,
Our souls have sight of that immortal sea
Which brought us hither.
Can in a moment travel thither,
And see the children sport upon the shore,
And hear the mighty waters rolling ever more.
But Wordsworth was not merely a lyrical poet; he justly claims to be the poet of Man of Nature, and of Human Life. Though in his youth he came under the influence of the ideals of the French Revolution, he was soon disillusioned on account of its excesses, and came to the conclusion that the emancipation of man cannot be effected by poetical upheavals, but by his living a simple, natural life. In the simple pieties of rustic life he began to find a surer foundation for faith in mankind than in the dazzling hopes created by the French Revolution. Moreover, he discovered that there is an innate harmony between Nature and Man. It is when man lives in the lap of nature that he lives the right type of life. She has an ennobling effect on him, and even the simplest things in nature can touch a responsive cord in man’s heart:
To me the meanest flower that blooms can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.
According to Wordsworth man is a part of Nature. In his poem Resolution and Independence the old man and the surroundings make a single picture:
Himself he propped, limbs, body, and pale face,
Upon a long grey staff of shaven wood;
And, still as I drew near with gentle pace
Upon the margin of that moorish flood,
Motionless like a cloud the old man stood
That heareth not the loud winds when they call;
And moveth all together, if it move at all.
Besides the harmony between Man and Nature, the harmony of Wordsworth’s own spirit with the universe is the theme of Wordsworth’s greatest Nature poems: Lines composed a few miles above Tintern Abbey, Yew Trees and The Simplton Pass.
Wordsworth is famous for his lyrics, sonnets, odes and short descriptive poems. His longer poems contain much that is prosy and uninteresting. The greater part of his work, including The Prelude and The Excursion was intended for a place in a single great poem, to be called The Recluse, which should treat of nature, man and society. The Prelude, treating of the growth of poets’ mind, was to introduce this work. The Excursion (1814) is the second book of The Recluse; and the third was never completed. In his later years, Wordsworth wrote much poetry which is dull and unimaginative. But there is not a single line in his poetry which has not got the dignity and high moral value which we associate with Wordsworth who, according to Tennyson, “uttered nothing base.”
Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834). The genius of Coleridge was complementary to that of Wordsworth. While Wordsworth dealt with naturalism which was an important aspect of the Romantic movement, Coleridge made the supernatural his special domain, which was an equally important aspect. In his youth Coleridge came under the spell of French Revolution and the high hope which it held out for the emancipation of the oppressed section of mankind. He gave poetic expression to his political aspiration in Religious Musings, Destiny of Nations and Ode to the Departing Year (1796). But like Wordsworth, he also began to think differently after the excesses of the Revolution. This change of thought is shown in his beautiful poem France: an Ode (1798) which he himself called his ‘recantation’. After that he, like Wordsworth, began to support the conservative cause.
Coleridge was a man of gigantic genius, but his lack of will power and addiction to opium prevented him from occomplishing much in the realm of poetry. Whatever he has written, though of high quality, is fragmentary. It was, however, in the fields of theology, philosophy and literary criticism that he exercised a tremendous and lasting influence. His two best-known poems are The Ancient Mariner and Christabel, which represent the high watermark of supernaturalism as some of the best poems of Wordsworth represent the triumph of naturalism, in English poetry. In these two poems Coleridge saved supernaturalism from the coarse sensationalism then in vogue by linking it with psychological truth. He had absorbed the spells of medievalism within himself and in these poems they appeared rarely distilled and inextricably blinded with poets’ exquisite perception of the mysteries that surround the commonplace things of everyday life.
In the Ancient Mariner, which is a poetic masterpiece, Coleridge introduced the reader to a supernatural realm, with a phantom ship, a crew of dead men, the overwhelming curse of the albatross, the polar spirit, the magic breeze, and a number of other supernatural things and happenings, but he manages to create a sense of absolute reality concerning these manifest absurdities. With that supreme art which ever seems artless, Coleridge gives us glimpses from time to time of the wedding feast to which the mariner has been invited. The whole poem is wrought with the colour and glamour of the Middle Ages and yet Coleridge makes no slavish attempt to reproduce the past in a mechanical manner. The whole poem is the baseless fabric of a vision; a fine product of the ethereal and subtle fancy of a great poet. But in spite of its wildness, its medieval superstitions and irresponsible happening, The Ancient Mariner is made actual and vital to our imagination by its faithful pictures of Nature, its psychological insight and simple humanity. In it the poet deals in a superb manner with the primal emotions of love, hate, pain, remorse and hope. He prayeth best who loveth best is not an artificial ending of the poem in the form of a popular saying, but it is a fine summing up in a few lines of the spirit which underlies the entire poem. Its simple, ballad form, its exquisite imagery, the sweet harmony of its verse, and the aptness of its phraseology, all woven together in an artistic whole, make this poem the most representative of the romantic school of poetry.
Christabel, which is a fragment, seems to have been planned as the story of a pure young girl who fell under the spell of a sorcer in the shape of the woman Gerldine. Though it has strange melody and many passages of exquisite poetry, and in sheer artistic power it is scarcely inferior to The Ancient Mariner, it has supernatural terrors of the popular hysterical novels. The whole poem is suffused in medieval atmosphere and everything is vague and indefinite. Like The Ancient Mariner it is written in a homely and simple diction and in a style which is spontaneous and effortless.
Kubla Khan is another fragment in which the poet has painted a gorgeous Oriental dream picture. The whole poem came to Coleridge in a dream one morning when he had fallen asleep, and upon awakening he began to write hastily, but he was interrupted after fifty-four lines were written, and it was never finished.
Though Coleridge wrote a number of other poems—Love, The Dark Ladie, Youth and Age, Dejection: an Ode, which have grace, tenderness and touches of personal emotion, and a number of poems full of very minute description of natural scenes, yet his strength lay in his marvellous dream faculty, and his reputation as a poet rest on The Ancient Mariner, Christabel and Kubla Khan where he touched the heights of romantic poetry.
Robert Southey (1774-1843) was the third poet of the group of Lake Poets. Unlike Wordsworth and Coleridge he lacked higher qualities of poetry, and his achievement as a poet is not much. He was a voracious reader and voluminous writer. His most ambitious poems Thalaba, The Curse of Kehama, Madoc and Roderick are based on mythology of different nations. He also wrote a number of ballads and short poems, of which the best known is about his love for books (My days among the Dead are past.) But he wrote far better prose than poetry, and his admirable Life of Nelson remains a classic. He was made the Poet Laureate in 1813, and after his death in 1843 Wordsworth held this title.
(b) The Scott Group
The romantic poets belonging to the Scott group are Sir Walter Scott, Campbell and Thomas Moore. They bridged the years which preceded the second outburst of high creative activity in the Romantic period.
Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832) was the first to make romantic poetry popular among the masses. His Marmion and Lady of the Lake gained greater popularity than the poems of Wordsworth and Coleridge which were read by a select few. But in his poetry we do not find the deeply imaginative and suggestive quality which is at the root of poetic excellence. It is the story element, the narrative power, which absorbs the reader’s attention. That is why they are more popular with young readers. Moreover, Scott’s poetry appeals on account of its vigour, youthful abandon, vivid pictures, heroic characters, rapid action and succession of adventures. His best known poems are The Lady of the Last Ministrel, Marmion, The Lady of the Lake, Rokeby, The Lord of the Isles. All of them recapture the atmosphere of the Middle Ages, and breathe an air of supernaturalism and superstitions. After 1815 Scott wrote little poetry and turned to prose romance in the form of the historical novel in which field he earned great and enduring fame.
Thomas Campbell (1774-1844) and Thomas Moore (1779-1852) were prominent among a host of minor poets who following the vogue of Scott wrote versified romance. Campbell wrote Gertrude of Wyoming (1809) in the Spenserian stanza, which does not hold so much interest today as his patriotic war songs—Ye Mariners of England, Hohenlinden, The Battle of the Baltic, and ballads such as Lord Ullin’s Daughter. The poems of Moore are now old-fashioned and have little interest for the modern reader. He wrote a long series of Irish Melodies, which are musical poems, vivacious and sentimental. His Lalla Rookh is a collection of Oriental tales in which he employs lucious imagery. Though Moore enjoyed immense popularity during his time, he is now considered as a minor poet of the Romantic Age.
(c) The Younger Group
To the younger group of romantic poets belong Byron, Shelley and Keats. They represent the second Flowering of English Romanticism, the first being represented by Wordsworth, Coleridge and Southey. Though the younger group was in many ways indebted to the older group and was in many ways akin to it, yet the poets of the younger group show some sharp differences with the poets of older group, it was because the revolutionary ideals which at first attracted Wordsworth, Coleridge and Southey and then repelled them, had passed into the blood of Byron and Shelley. They were the children of the revolution and their humanitarian ardour affected even Keats who was more of an artist. Moreover, compared to the poets of the older group, the poets of the younger group were not only less national, but they were also against the historic and social traditions of England. It is not without significance that Byron and Shelley lived their best years, and produced their best poetry in Italy; and Keats was more interested in Greek mythology than in the life around him. Incidentally, these three poets of second generation of Romanticism died young—Byron at the age of thirty-six, Shelley thirty, and Keats twenty-five. So the spirit of youthful freshness is associated with their poetry.
(i) Lord George Gordon Byron (1788-1824)
During his time Byron was the most popular of all Romantic poets, and he was the only one who made an impact on the continent both in his own day and for a long time afterwards. This was mainly due to the force of his personality and the glamour of his career, but as his poetry does not possess the high excellence that we find in Shelley’s and Keats’, now he is accorded a lower positions in the hierarchy of Romantic poets. He is the only Romantic poet who showed regard for the poets of the eighteenth century, and ridiculed his own contemporaries in his early satirical poem, English Bards and Scottish Reviewers (1809). That is why, he is called the ‘Romantic Paradox’.
Byron who had travelled widely captured the imagination of his readers by the publications of the first two Cantos of Childe Harold Pilgrimage (1812). This work made him instantly famous. As he said himself, “I woke one morning and found myself famous.” In it he described the adventures of a glamorous but sinister hero through strange lands. He also gave an air of authenticity to these adventures and a suggestion that he himself had indulged in such exploits. Such a hero, called the Byronic hero, became very popular among the readers and there was greater and greater demand for such romances dealing with his exploits. Under the pressure of the popular demand Byron wrote a number of romances which began with The Giaor (1813), and in all of them he dealt with the exploits of the Byronic hero. But whereas these romances made his reputation not in England alone but throughout Europe, the pruder section of the English society began to look upon him with suspicion, and considered him a dangerous, sinister man. The result was that when his wife left him in 1816, a year after his marriage, there was such a turn in the tide of public opinion against him that he left England under a cloud of distrust and disappointment and never returned.
It was during the years of his exile in Italy that the best part of his poetry was written by him. The third and fourth cantos of Childe Harold (1816-1818) have more sincerity, and are in every way better expressions of Byron’s genius. He also wrote two sombre and self-conscious tragedies—Manfred and Cain. But the greatness of Byron as a poet lies, however, not in these poems and tragedies, but in the satires which begin with Beppo (1818) and include The Vision of Judgment (1822) and Don Juan (1819-24). Of these Don Juan, which is a scathing criticism of the contemporary European society, is one of the greatest poems in the English language. In it humour, sentiment, adventure and pathos are thrown together in a haphazard manner as in real life. It is written in a conversational style which subtly produces comic as well as satirical effect.
Of all the romantic poets Byron was the most egoistical. In all his poems his personality obtrudes itself, and he attaches the greatest importance to it. Of the romantic traits, he represents the revolutionary iconoclasm at its worst, and that is why he came in open conflict with the world around him. His last great act, dying on his way to take part in the Greek War of Independence, was a truly heroic act; and it vindicated his position for all times and made him a martyr in the cause of freedom.
Byron does not enjoy a high reputation as a poet because of his slipshod and careless style. He was too much in a hurry to revise what he had written, and so there is much in his poetry which is artistically imperfect. Moreover his rhetorical style, which was admirably suited to convey the force and fire of his personality, often becomes dull and boring.
(ii) Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)
Whereas Byron was the greatest interpreter of revolutionary iconoclasm, Shelley was the revolutionary idealist, a prophet of hope and faith. He was a visionary who dreamed of the Golden Age. Unlike Byron’s genius which was destructive, Shelley’s was constructive and he incarnated that aspect of the French Revolution which aimed at building up a new and beautiful edifice on the ruins of the old and the ugly. Whereas Byron’s motive impulse was pride, Shelley’s was love.
In his early days Shelley came under the influence of William Godwin’s Political Justice. He saw that all established institutions, kings and priests were diverse forms of evil and obstacles to happiness and progress. So he began to imagine the new world which would come into existence when all these forms of error and hatred had disappeared. The essence of all his poetical works is his prophecy of the new-born age. In his first long poem, Queen Mab, which he wrote when he was eighteen, he condemns kings, governments, church, property, marriage and Christianity. The Revolt of Islam which followed in 1817, and is a sort of transfigured picture of the French Revolution is charged with the young poet’s hopes for the future regeneration of the world. In 1820 appeared Prometheus Unbound, the hymn of human revolt triumphing over the oppression of false gods. In this superb lyrical drama we find the fullest and finest expression of Shelley’s faith and hope. Here Prometheus stands forth as the prototype of mankind in its long struggle against the forces of despotism, symbolised by love. At last Prometheus is united to Asia, the spirit of love and goodness in nature, and everything gives promise that they shall live together happy ever afterwards.
Shelley’s other great poems are Alastor (1816), in which he describes his pursuit of an unattainable ideal of beauty; Julian and Meddalo (1818) in which he draws his own portrait contrasted with last of Byron; The Cenci, a poetic drama which deals with the terrible story of Beatrice who, the victim of father’s lust, takes his life in revenge; the lyrical drama Hallas in which he sings of the rise of Greece against the Ottoman yoke; Epipsychidion in which he celebrates his Platonic love for a beautiful young Italian girl: Adonais, the best-known of Shelley’s longer poems, which is an elegy dedicated to the poet Keats, and holds its place with Milton’s Lycidas and Tennyson’s In Memoriam as one of the three greatest elegies in the English language; and the unfinished masterpiece, The Triumph of Life.
Shelley’s reputation as a poet lies mainly in his lyrical power. He is in fact the greatest lyrical poet of England. In all these poems mentioned above, it is their lyrical rapture which in unique. In the whole of English poetry there is no utterance as spontaneous as Shelley’s and nowhere does the thought flow with such irresistable melody. Besides these longer poems Shelley wrote a number of small lyrics of exquisite beauty, such as “To Constantia Singing’, the ‘Ozymandias’ sonnet, the “Lines written among the Euganean Hills’, the ‘Stanzas written in Dejection’, the ‘Ode to the West Wind’, ‘Cloud’, ‘Skylark’; ‘O World! O life! O time’. It is in fact on the foundation of these beautiful lyrics, which are absolutely consummate and unsurpassed the whole range of English lyrical poetry, that Shelley’s real reputation as a poet lies.
As the poet of Nature, Shelley was inspired by the spirit of love which was not limited to mankind but extended to every living creature—to animals and flowers, to elements, to the whole Nature. He is not content, like Wordsworth, merely to love and revere Nature; his very being is fused and blended with her. He, therefore, holds passionate communion with the universe, and becomes one with the lark (To a Skylark), with the cloud (The Cloud), and west wind (Ode to the West Wind) to which he utters forth this passionate, lyrical appeal:
Make me thy lyre, even as the forest is;
What if my leaves are falling like its own!
The tumult of thy mighty harmonies
Will take from both a deep, autumnal tone,
Sweet though in sadness. Be thou, spirit fierce,
My spirit! Be thou me, impetuous one.
(iii) John Keats (1795-21)
Of all the romantic poets, Keats was the pure poet. He was not only the last but the most perfect of the Romanticists. He was devoted to poetry and had no other interest. Unlike Wordsworth who was interested in reforming poetry and upholding the moral law; unlike Shelley who advocated impossible reforms and phrophesied about the golden age; and unlike Byron who made his poetry a vehicle of his strongly egoistical nature and political discontents of the time; unlike Coleridge who was a metaphysician, and Scott who relished in story-telling, Keats did not take much notice of the social, political and literary turmoils, but devoted himself entirely to the worship of beauty, and writing poetry as it suited his temperament. He was, about all things, a poet, and nothing else. His nature was entirely and essentially poetical and the whole of his vital energy went into art.
Unlike Byron who was a lord, and Shelley who belonged to an aristocratic family, Keats came of a poor family, and at an early age he had to work as a doctor’s assistant. But his medical studies did not stand in the way of his passion for writing poetry which was roused by his reading of Spenser’s The Faerie Queene, which revealed to him the vast world of poetry. He also became interested in the beauty of nature. His first volume of poems appeared in 1817 and his first long poem Endymion in 1818, which opened with the following memorable lines:
A thing of beauty is a joy for ever;
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us; and sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and healthy, and quiet breathing.
This poem was severely criticised by contemporary critics, which must have shocked Keats. Besides this a number of other calamities engulfed him. He had lost his father when he was only nine; his mother and brother died of tuberculosis, and he himself was suffering from this deadly disease. All these misfortunes were intensified by his disappointment in love for Fanny Brawne whom Keats loved passionately. But he remained undaunted, and under the shadow of death and in midst of most excruciating sufferings Keats brought out his last volume of poems in the year 1820 (which is called the ‘Living Year’ in his life.) The Poems of 1820 are Keats’ enduring monument. They include the three narratives, Isabella, The Eve of St. Agnes and Lamia: the unfinished epic Hyperion; the Odes, La Belle Dame Sans Merci, and a few sonnets.
In Isabella Keats made an attempt to turn a somewhat repellent and tragic love story of Isabella and Lorenzo, who was murdered by Isabella’s brothers, into a thing of beauty by means of fine narrative skill and beautiful phraseology. In Lamia Keats narrated the story of a beautiful enchantress, who turns from a serpent into a glorious woman and fills every human sense with delight, until as the result of the foolish philosophy of old Apollonius, she vanishes for ever from her lover’s sight. The Eve of St. Agnes, which is the most perfect of Keat’s medieval poems, is surpassingly beautiful in its descriptions. Hyperion which is a magnificent fragment deals with the overthrow of the Titans by the young sun-god Apollo. This poem shows the influence of Milton as Endymion of Spenser. La Belle Dame Sans Merci, which captures the spirit of the Middle Ages, has a haunting melody. Though small, it is a most perfect work of art.
Of the odes, those To a Nightingale, On a Grecian Urn and To Autumn stand out above the rest, and are among the masterpieces of poetic art. In Ode to a Nightingale we find a love of sensuous beauty, and a touch of pessimism. In Ode on a Grecian Urn we see Keats’s love for Greek mythology and art. It is this Ode which ends with the following most memorable lines in the whole of Keats’s poetry.
‘Beauty is Truth, and Truth Beauty’,–that is all
Yea know on earth, and all ye need to know.
The Ode to Autumn, in which Keats has glorified Nature, is a poem which for richness and colour has never been surpassed. Though Keats died young, when he had attained barely the age of twenty-five, and had only a few years in which he could effectively write poetry, his achievement in the field of poetry is so great, that we wonder what he might have accomplished if he had lived longer. For a long time his poetry was considered merely as sensuous having no depth of thought. But with the help of his letters critics have reinterpreted his poems, and now it has been discovered that they are based on mature thinking, and that there is a regular line of development from the point of thought and art. He was not an escapist who tried to run away from the stark realities of life, but he faced life bravely, and came to the conclusion that sufferings play an important part in the development of the human personality. As a worshipper of beauty, though his first approach was sensuous, his attitude suddenly became philosophic, and he discovered that there is beauty in everything, and that Beauty and Truth are one. As an artist there are few English poets who come near him. As a poet he had very high ideals before him. He wanted to become the poet of the human heart, one with Shakespeare. For him the proper role of poetry is ‘to be a friend to sooth the cares, and lift the thoughts of men”, and the real poet is that “to whom the miseries of the world are misery, and will not let him rest.”
And Keats sincerely and persistently lived up to these high ideals. Taking into account all these factors and the very short span of life that was given to him by the Providence, it is no exaggeration to say that of all the English poets he comes nearest to Shakespeare.