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Keats’ Conflict Between the World of Imagination and the World of Reality
Escaping the hardships of real life, John Keats escapes from the real world and enters the realm of imagination. But there is a striking difference between the real world in which the poet lives and the imaginary world in which he wishes to be. Now we are going to discuss the conflict between these two worlds in his poems, especially “Hymn on the Greek Urn”, “Alkali Poem” and “Sad Poem”.
In the real world, happiness, beauty, love and youth are temporary, but in the imaginary world, everything is beautiful and eternal. “Praise of the Night” shows a clear contradiction between the happiness and immortality of human life, suffering and mortality. The poem begins by telling how the song of the nightingale affects the poet’s body and mind. According to the poet:
“My heart hurts and I have symptoms of sleepiness.
I feel like I’ve been drunk.”
For the poet, the Nightingale’s song is a symbol of eternal joy. Nightingale’s world is the ideal world for him. The fatigue, fever and frustration of reality make him unhappy. He wants to fade away to dissolve from the real world, as the poet says.
“…Youth fades and fades and dies.
Where else can one be filled with sorrow but in thought”
Therefore, the poet wants to escape with the grave to the forest of dreams to get rid of the girdle and painful reality of life. According to him;
“Away! Away! For I will fly to you”
In the forest of his imagination, the poet finds all the pleasures of his life, which would be in an ideal world. This joy also reminds him of death. As we see in the poem:
“It seems richer to die now.
In such a wretched state.”
The poet now contrasts the mortality of mankind with the immortality of the nightingale. The song of the nightingale, which the poet still hears, was once heard by kings and clowns. It also sounded like a fairy tale.
“… magic boxes that open on styrofoam
in a dangerous sea, in a land of bitter tales.”
Just like a bell, the “complicated” world brings him back from the backyard world to the real world. It’s like a poet’s dream. According to him;
“Was it a vision or a walking dream?
Escaping is that music – whether I wake or sleep.”
Thus, in the poem we see a dynamic contrast between the world of imagination and the real world full of sorrow.
Like the poem itself, “Poem on a Greek Urn” finds a contrast between the permanence of the purity, beauty, and joy engraved on the Urn, and the temporality of the joy of the world of reading. According to the poet;
Thou spotless bride of silence!
You’re a quiet, slow-witted child.”
In the imaginary world of art, the bride is forever untouched, but in the real world, this is completely impossible.
Keats also contrasts the permanence of art with the transience of real life. According to the poet,
“He cannot fade forever in your love, he will be fair.”
In real life, beauty and love are short-lived. Here, the beloved grows older and loses her beauty over the years. But the girl depicted on Urngan, which is a work of art, will never grow old and will remain forever young.
Another poem that deals with the strange difficulties of human life is “Sad Poem”. Sadness lives in beauty and happiness, says the poet. When we enjoy them, we think they will soon be over. The duration of beauty makes us unhappy.
Sadness, as the poet says
“Beauty lives – beauty must die.”
For the poet, sadness lives in the same temple as the god of joy. According to the poet;
“…Melancholy shrouded only in the Temple of Joy…”
It shows the interdependence of pain and pleasure, joy and sorrow, temporality and impermanence.
Finally, the imaginary world can provide us with a short-term refuge, but it cannot provide a solution to a better reality. So everyone must overcome the differences between these worlds and eventually return to the real world.
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