English

The Elusive Muse in a World Touched by Sorrow

Avery Foskey

Description/Abstract

When read superficially, “To a Skylark” by Percy Shelley and “Ode to a Nightingale” by John Keats appear to be appreciative observations of nature. As the two works are examined together, however, the authors’ desire for the unbridled enthusiasm of nature’s common muse becomes evident. It seems that Shelley and Keats believed a combination of the innocent joy of nature and man’s capacity to experience and appreciate sorrow would produce true artistic genius, paralleled only by nature’s ability to encapsulate its own rapture. They marvel at the unhindered gladness that comes from being apart of nature without the human obstacles of sorrow, loss, or impending mortality. These works by Shelley and Keats are beautiful on their own, but together they reveal the common struggle of the Romantic poet: the desire to be more than human in order to receive divine inspiration. To be more than human, like an immortal, or less than human, like a bird, gives one the freedom to know the world untainted. When examining these poems, it seems as if both Shelley and Keats believe that a combination of the unsullied purity of a nightingale or skylark and the raw depth and complexity of human emotion would create an inner muse that would rival divine inspiration. These men were very different, but upon reading these poems they seem touchingly similar. The quest for the right words consumed both of their lives, and it is no wonder that the idea of inhuman joy would appeal to them.

 
Mar 13th, 9:00 AM Mar 13th, 10:00 AM

The Elusive Muse in a World Touched by Sorrow

Nesbitt 1201

When read superficially, “To a Skylark” by Percy Shelley and “Ode to a Nightingale” by John Keats appear to be appreciative observations of nature. As the two works are examined together, however, the authors’ desire for the unbridled enthusiasm of nature’s common muse becomes evident. It seems that Shelley and Keats believed a combination of the innocent joy of nature and man’s capacity to experience and appreciate sorrow would produce true artistic genius, paralleled only by nature’s ability to encapsulate its own rapture. They marvel at the unhindered gladness that comes from being apart of nature without the human obstacles of sorrow, loss, or impending mortality. These works by Shelley and Keats are beautiful on their own, but together they reveal the common struggle of the Romantic poet: the desire to be more than human in order to receive divine inspiration. To be more than human, like an immortal, or less than human, like a bird, gives one the freedom to know the world untainted. When examining these poems, it seems as if both Shelley and Keats believe that a combination of the unsullied purity of a nightingale or skylark and the raw depth and complexity of human emotion would create an inner muse that would rival divine inspiration. These men were very different, but upon reading these poems they seem touchingly similar. The quest for the right words consumed both of their lives, and it is no wonder that the idea of inhuman joy would appeal to them.