Professor Cleese is showing a steely determination to drill an appreciation for Keats into us. Up until now my only contact with Keats was in Hagar’s class, when we were assigned to groups and forced to give oral presentations of his (Keats’, not Hagar’s) poetry. Kim and Michele (and Katie?) and I wound up with “La Belle Dame Sans Merci,” and all through the oral report Kim kept muttering “it doesn’t scan. ‘And no birds sing’ does not scan. This is bullshit.”
So far I tend to agree with Kim; Keats is not my guy. Despite having the metaphors behind every word in every line in “Ode on a Grecian Urn” explained to me last night, I still cannot escape the feeling that I’m just reading a poem about a vase. The only Keats I really have warmed to so far is this, from “Ode to Melancholy”:
Or if thy mistress some rich anger shows,
Emprison her soft hand, and let her rave,
And feed deep, deep upon her peerless eyes.
As poetry it is swoony and ridiculous but as advice it’s pretty good, and I herein offer it to the Lad as a how-to manual for weathering my emotional storms.