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Keats's Skepticism about Poetry's Therapeutic Power

By Yi-Hsuan Tso


In an early poem, "Sleep and Poetry," Keats presents his thought on poetry's healing power, arguing that poetry can be both therapeutic and transcendent. From the examples Keats affords in "Sleep and Poetry," "The Fall of Hyperion: A Dream" and elsewhere, it can be deduced that the consoling effects of what I call Keats's "therapeutic poetry" arise from the mingling of illusion and disillusionment. This poetry creates an illusive world in which readers can not only temporarily escape from the frets of reality, but also experience an awakening from the dream of the poem, a moment that lifts the reader's mind to a higher level of tranquil meditation. In many of Keats's poems, innocence and experience as well as illusion and disillusionment overlap in one dream to produce the therapeutic property defined by Keats in "Sleep and Poetry." However, this advantage of a m�lange is missing in "The Fall of Hyperion: A Dream." The poem starts with a critique of the illusive aspect of poetry. And yet, the poem ends with the feeling that illusion is still an essential and important component of poetry. Near the end of the second dream, an illusion is inlayed again through the light of the sun god, Hyperion. The unfinished fragment ends in a vision which affirms the value of illusion with some reservation

Topics: John Keats, skepticism, Hyperion, therapeutic, illusion, dream
Publisher: 臺中市:國立中興大學外國語文學系
Year: 2014
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