Keats’ Ode to a Nightingale is a perfect example of this escapism. In the third stanza, the speaker is describing to the nightingale the bitter world that it does not know of. The nightingale “has never known // the weariness, the fever, and the fret // here, where men sit and hear each other groan; // where palsy shakes a few, sad, last gray hairs, //where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies; // where but to think is to be full of sorrow // and leaden-eyed despairs” (Keats 23-28). Here, Keats is echoing the harsh reality that has been his life and what he sees as all life. Keats’ view of life is one full of misery, pain, struggle, and death. He writes of men getting old and losing control over their hands, groaning and complaining. He also writes o...
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...missing the richness and diversity of life.
So John Keats is an escapist because he seeks escape from reality. However, he is never truly able to escape. No matter how deep he buries himself in poetry or art, it gives only momentary respite before he is shot back to reality and reminded of the limitations of being lost in a stationary scene. He is an escapist that never truly escapes, tied down to the very thing he tries to escape from. Keats is doomed to be unhappy, for the kind of life that would satisfy his mind is impossible.
Keats, John. "Ode on a Grecian Urn." The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Ed. Stephen Greenblatt. 9th ed. Vol. D. N.p.: W.W. Norton &, 2012. 930-31. Print.
Keats, John. "Ode to a Nightingale." The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Ed. Stephen Greenblatt. 9th ed. Vol. D. N.p.: W.W. Norton &, 2012. 927-29. Print.
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