Discuss Keats as a poet of sensuousness.
Discuss the use of sensuous imagery in Keats poetry.
Write a note on Keats sensuousness in his “Odes.”
Comment on the sensuous qualities in Keats “Odes’, with illustrations.
In what sense can we call Keats a sensuous poet?
Answer: The poetry of Keats is characterized by ‘sensuous’ uses of language. The sensuousness of Keats is a striking characteristic of his entire poetry All his poems including his great odes contain rich sensuous appeal. The odes, which represent the highest poetic achievement of Keats, are replete with sensuous pictures.
I “Ode to a Nightingale” is one of the most remarkable poems of sensuousness. In the second stanza of this ode, there is a description of the gustatory sensation of drinking wine. There are references to the visual and auditory senses too. The poet also paints the picture of a drunken whose mouth is purple stained because of the red wine he has drunk:
“With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,
And purple-stained mouth;”
The descriptions of the wine are so sensuous that we see the bubbling wine, we also hear the dance and sun-burnt mirth; we also get an inkling of the taste of the long cooled wine. In the 5th stanza the poet gives a highly sensuous description of the Nightingale world:
“I cannot see what flowers are at my feet;
Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs,
The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine,
The murmurous haunt of flies onsummereves.”
The description of the nature alludes to the sense of sight or its absence (1 cannot see); the sense of touch and of smell (soft incense) and by the end of the verse, with the evocation of “the coming musk-rose, full of dew wine”, the sense of taste and hearing have also been incorporated.
“Ode to Autumn” is considered to be the perfect embodiment of concrete sensuous experience. The poem gives a graphic description of the season with all its variety and richness. The whole atmosphere and the mood of the season are presented through sensuous imagery and descriptions:
“With fruits the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples and moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruits with ripeness to the core.”
In “Ode on Melancholy” again, we have several sensuous pictures. There is the rain falling from a cloud above and reviving the drooping flowers below and covering the green hill in an “April”. There is the morning rose, there are the colors produced by the sunlight playing on wet sand; and there is the wealth of “globed peonies”. And then there is another exquisitely sensuous picture:
“Or if thy mistress some rich anger shows,
Emprison her soft hand and let her rave
And feed deep, deep upon her peerless eyes”
Keats always selects the objects of his description and imagery with a keen eye on their sensuous appeal. This sensuousness is the principal charm of his poetry. A general recognition of this quality leads to the consensus that Keats’s poetry is particularly successful in depicting, representing or conveying ‘reality’ or experience that his -poetic language displays a kind of ‘solidity’ or concreteness capable of convincing the reader of the reality of what it communicate & — persuading him, almost, to imagine that he is literally perceiving the objects and the experiences that the verse describes.