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Keats and De Quincey and Austen

2. Keats and De Quincey show similar concerns about the way the artist perceives and shapes the material of this world through the application of imagination, though Keats is given more to what would be called imagination in the romantic era, while De Quincey refers to his reveries under opium in ways that seems to be more in keeping with the idea of the fancy expressed through imaginative literature. The distinction is not always clear, but for Keats, the poet turns within and shapes experience in the manner of a dream. De Quincey's drug use suggests altering the internal to reach outward to the objects of the world and to so empower himself to connect with those objects more directly. De Quincey always talks of opium not as producing the torpor people think it does but a different sense, for "the primary effects of opium are always, and in the highest degree, to excite and stimulate the system" (De Quincey 77). This stimulation is how De Quincey finds poetic power, while Keats finds that power within himself, delving into his own reveries for some commonality with the object of his poetry.

John Keats elevates the poetic imagination in works that are highly reflective, and he often examines the nature of art itself as he considers how artistic expression is related to time. This can be seen in his poem "Ode on a Grecian Urn" in which the poet speaks directly to the reader and describes the scene painted on the side of the urn. There is an immediacy in the way Keats describes the scene and comments on the action. He sees on the side of this urn images of life--people reveling, dancing in the woods, singing, playing music, and so on. The entire image is of a moment frozen in time, a joyous moment in which people are laughing and cavorting and now will be doing so forever because of the way the scene has been captured forever by a long-ago artist. The poet is thus responding immediately to the images he sees on the urn, to t...

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Keats and De Quincey and Austen. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 08:56, May 28, 2020, from