Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Letters of John Keats Quotes

Letters (1817–1820)

  • I am certain of nothing but the holiness of the heart's affections and the truth of imagination — what the imagination seizes as beauty must be truth — whether it existed before or not.
    • Letter to Benjamin Bailey (November 22, 1817)
  • The imagination may be compared to Adam's dream — he awoke and found it truth.
    • Letter to Benjamin Bailey (November 22, 1817)
  • O for a life of Sensations rather than of Thoughts!
    • Letter to Benjamin Bailey (November 22, 1817)
  • I scarcely remember counting upon happiness — I look not for it if it be not in the present hour — nothing startles me beyond the moment. The setting sun will always set me to rights, or if a sparrow come before my Window I take part in its existence and pick about the gravel.
    • Letter to Benjamin Bailey (November 22, 1817)
  • The excellency of every art is its intensity, capable of making all disagreeables evaporate, from their being in close relationship with beauty and truth.
    • Letter to G. and F. Keats (December 21, 1817)
  • At once it struck me what quality went to form a man of achievement, especially in literature, and which Shakespeare possessed so enormously — I mean negative capability, that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason.
    • Letter to George and Thomas Keats (December 22, 1817)
  • They will explain themselves — as all poems should do without any comment.
    • Letter to George Keats (1818)
  • Works of genius are the first things in this world.
    • Letter to G. and F. Keats (January 13, 1818)
  • Nothing is finer for the purposes of great productions than a very gradual ripening of the intellectual powers.
    • Letter to his brother, (January 23, 1818)
  • Poetry should be great and unobtrusive, a thing which enters into one's soul, and does not startle it or amaze it with itself, but with its subject.
    • Letter to John Hamilton Reynolds (February 3, 1818)
  • We hate poetry that has a palpable design upon us — and if we do not agree, seems to put its hand in its breeches pocket. Poetry should be great and unobtrusive, a thing which enters into one's soul, and does not startle or amaze with itself, but with its subject.
    • Letter to John Hamilton Reynolds (February 3, 1818)
  • Many have original minds who do not think it — they are led away by custom — Now it appears to me that almost any man may like the spider spin from his own inwards his own citadel.
    • Letter to John Hamilton Reynolds (February 19, 1818)
If Poetry comes not as naturally as the leaves to a tree it had better not come at all.
  • In Poetry I have a few axioms, and you will see how far I am from their centre. I think Poetry should surprise by a fine excess and not by singularity — it should strike the reader as a wording of his own highest thoughts, and appear almost a remembrance — Its touches of Beauty should never be halfway thereby making the reader breathless instead of content: the rise, the progress, the setting of imagery should like the Sun come natural to him — shine over him and set soberly although in magnificence leaving him in the luxury of twilight — but it is easier to think what Poetry should be than to write it — and this leads me on to another axiom. That if Poetry comes not as naturally as the leaves to a tree it had better not come at all.
    • Letter to John Taylor (February 27, 1818)
  • Scenery is fine — but human nature is finer.
    • Letter to Benjamin Bailey (March 13, 1818)
  • Every mental pursuit takes its reality and worth from the ardour of the pursuer.
    • Letter to Benjamin Bailey (March 13, 1818)
  • Axioms in philosophy are not axioms until they are proved upon our pulses: we read fine things but never feel them to the full until we have gone the same steps as the author.
    • Letter to John Hamilton Reynolds (May 3, 1818)
  • I compare human life to a large mansion of many apartments, two of which I can only describe, the doors of the rest being as yet shut upon me.
    • Letter to John Hamilton Reynolds (May 3, 1818)
  • I am certain I have not a right feeling towards women - at this moment I am striving to be just to them, but I cannot. Is it because they fall so far beneath my boyish imagination? When I was a schoolboy I thought a fair woman a pure Goddess; my mind was a soft nest in which some one of them slept, though she knew it not.
    • Letter to Benjamin Bailey (July 18, 1818)
  • There is an awful warmth about my heart like a load of immortality.
    • Letter to John Hamilton Reynolds (September 22, 1818)
  • I begin to get a little acquainted with my own strength and weakness. Praise or blame has but a momentary effect on the man whose love of beauty in the abstract makes him a severe critic on his own works.
    • Letter to James Hessey (October 9, 1818)
  • I have written independently without Judgment. I may write independently, and with Judgment, hereafter. The Genius of Poetry must work out its own salvation in a man: It cannot be matured by law and precept, but by sensation and watchfulness in itself — That which is creative must create itself — In Endymion, I leaped headlong into the sea, and thereby have become better acquainted with the Soundings, the quicksands, and the rocks, than if I had stayed upon the green shore, and piped a, silly pipe, and took tea and comfortable advice. I was never afraid of failure; for I would sooner fail than not be among the greatest.
    • Letter to James Hessey (October 9, 1818)
  • I think I shall be among the English Poets after my death.
    • Letter to George and Georgiana Keats (October 14, 1818)
  • The poetical character... is not itself — it has no self — it is every thing and nothing — It has no character — it enjoys light and shade; it lives in gusto, be it fair or foul, high or low, rich or poor, mean or elevated. — It has as much delight in conceiving an Iago as an Imogen. What shocks the virtuous philospher, delights the camelion poet.
    • Letter to Richard Woodhouse (October 27, 1818)
  • A poet is the most unpoetical of anything in existence; because he has no identity — he is continually informing — and filling some other body.
    • Letter to Richard Woodhouse (October 27, 1818)
  • A man's life of any worth is a continual allegory — and very few eyes can see the mystery of life — a life like the Scriptures, figurative... Lord Byron cuts a figure, but he is not figurative. Shakespeare led a life of allegory: his works are the comments on it.
    • Letter to George and Georgiana Keats (February 14 - May 3, 1819)
  • Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced — Even a proverb is no proverb to you till your Life has illustrated it.
    • Letter to George and Georgiana Keats (February 14-May 3, 1819)
  • I myself am pursuing the same instinctive course as the veriest human animal you can think of — I am, however young, writing at random — straining at particles of light in the midst of a great darkness — without knowing the bearing of any one assertion, of any one opinion. Yet may I not in this be free from sin?
    • Letter to George and Georgiana Keats (March 19, 1819)
  • Call the world if you please "The vale of soul-making."
    • Letter to George and Georgiana Keats (April 21, 1819)
  • I have two luxuries to brood over in my walks, your loveliness and the hour of my death. O that I could have possession of them both in the same minute.
    • To Fanny Brawne (July 25, 1819)
  • I have nothing to speak of but my self-and what can I say but what I feel
    • Letter to John Hamilton Reynolds (August 24, 1819)
  • Some think I have lost that poetical ardour and fire 'tis said I once had- the fact is, perhaps I have; but, instead of that, I hope I shall substitute a more thoughtful and quiet power.
    • Letter to George Keats (September 21, 1819)
  • "If I should die," said I to myself, "I have left no immortal work behind me — nothing to make my friends proud of my memory — but I have loved the principle of beauty in all things, and if I had had time I would have made myself remembered."
    • To Fanny Brawne (c. February 1820)
  • You are always new. The last of your kisses was ever the sweetest; the last smile the brightest; the last movement the gracefullest.
    • Letter to Fanny Brawne (March 1820)
  • You might curb your magnanimity, and be more of an artist, and load every rift of your subject with ore.
  • I can scarcely bid you good-bye, even in a letter. I always made an awkward bow. God bless you!
    • Letter to Charles Armitage Brown (November 30, 1820)

Poems (1817)

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