By Harold Bloom (Edited & with an Introduction by)
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Additional info for John Keats (Bloom's Modern Critical Views)
As he wrote to Reynolds after completing, so far as we can judge, all the odes but Autumn, “I have of late been moulting: not for fresh feathers & wings: they are gone, and in their stead I hope to have a pair of patient sublunary legs” (Letters, II, 128). In Indolence, Keats had ached, within his chrysalis, for wings; in Psyche, both Cupid and Psyche are winged creatures though not yet shown in ﬂight; in Nightingale, Keats at last wills to ﬂy, if not on actual wings, then on the viewless wings of Poesy.
The imagery and diction of the odes is pervasively antithetical, and the richness of the poetry so engendered is perhaps the ﬁnest product of Keats’ own negative capability. For the odes express an aporetic rather than a tragic vision of life, and they constitute something which may be unique in the greatest literature—the achievement of a highly ordered, controlled and sophisticated art springing from radical bewilderment. For purposes of discussion I have chosen to group the odes in pairs. I take Nightingale and Melancholy together because although they differ greatly from each other in total effect, they have certain important aspects in common.
I am not unaware by how much the poem falls short of its claim of restitution, nor of the ironies (discussed most recently by Sperry and Fry) that it encounters on its way to the ﬁnal fane. But these difficulties in the path—culminating in the vacancy of the ﬁnal tableau—do not defeat the passionate tone of the poem. Bloom, not insensitive to the ironies, yet speaks of the poem’s “rhapsodical climax,” and sees the open casement emphasizing “the openness of the imagination toward the heart’s affections” (Visionary Company, pp.