Blog series · Poetry

A Thing of Beauty – John Keats | Poetry Analysis

This poem was suggested by Nathi @ Wayward Scribbles. She has an amazing way with words and her posts are a pleasure to read! Don’t forget to check out her blog!

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Born on October 31, 1795 in England, “John Keats was one of the principal poets of the English Romantic movement. During his short life, his work received constant critical attacks from the periodicals of the day, but his posthumous influence on poets such as Alfred Tennyson has been immense. Elaborate word choice and sensual imagery characterize Keats’s poetry, including a series of odes that were his masterpieces and which remain among the most popular poems in English literature.” He died at the age of 25 on February 23, 1821.
(Short bio and image from Goodreads)

 A Thing of Beauty is a Joy Forever is a poem that was based on the Greek mythology of Endymion, a shepherd, whose beauty was of such joy to the moon Goddess, Selene that she requested Zeus to make him immortal. John Keats based his 1818 poem, Endymion, on this myth, which featured A Thing of Beauty is a Joy Forever. The underlying idea of this poem is that a beautiful thing is a source of eternal joy, its attractiveness grows with the passage of time and its impact never fades away.

According to Beaming Notes, “The effects of the things of beauty permanently charm to our senses, they do not fade with time and stays in our senses. No time and space can put an end to the effect of the beauty of objects.
Keats defines the sun, the moon, the old trees, the daffodils, the clear streams and the forest which are rich with good-looking flowers-as the objects of beauty. This objects always appeals to our minds and nothing neither time nor space can make us unable to summon up them.”

Keats describes a thing of beauty as emanating joy forever. Its beauty only increases and it will never cease. He also provides a lot of comparisons referring to this ‘Thing of Beauty’ as in ‘a bower quiet for us‘ or a ‘sleep full of sweet dreams‘. The poet continues to elaborate on this point stating that the earth without the beautiful things is a despondent, spiteful place that thrives in callous insensitive dearth and is harsh towards humans. In spite of all, a thing of beauty helps remove the dark cloud that burdens our souls. 

Poem Analysis states that, “A Thing of Beauty is a Joy Forever’, it starts, a phrase that has since been immortalized in English parlance, and it goes on to explain that, without beautiful things, the world is a grim, dark place, despondent and full of misery. Endymion(his poem) is thus a reflection of this: of how lovely things grow more beautiful by the passing years, and how nature, and its beauty, keeps human beings happy and satisfied on this earth above all other people. Life, although full of problems, provides us with nature to lose ourselves in when we need it.”

In the last few lines, the poet describes to the beauty of the ‘grandeur’ of the ‘mighty dead’ which refers to individuals who sacrificed their lives for the greater good of the general public. He concludes with an iconic point mentioning that nature is the ‘endless fountain of immortal drink’ which it ‘pours unto us from heaven’s brink.’

Quoting Poem Analysis again, “Spinning forward an image of ripe flowers and greenery, Keats pulls the reader of Endymion in, perhaps without the subtlety of his later Odes, but with such a delicate touch that it is almost impossible to resist thinking about beauty the way that he refers to it.”.

Coming to the use of poetic devices, there are quite a lot of metaphors, alliteration and an *oxymoron (‘mighty dead’). And the rich imagery and captivating rhyme scheme which I’m pretty sure wouldn’t escape anyone’s notice. This spectacular poem is written in rhyming couplets and the rhyme scheme is AABB.

*oxymoron-a figure of speech in which apparently contradictory terms appear in conjunction (from Google).

Referred Sources:
English Summary
Poem Analysis
Beaming Notes

So, that was all for this post! I absolutely enjoyed every second I spent reading and writing for this poem; apart from learning quite a bit about the poet, the poem and bits and pieces of a Greek myth, I found this poem really inspiring and insightful, especially considering our current situation. A huge thank you to Nathi @ Wayward Scribbles for the suggestion! As they say, beauty can be found in the smallest of things. I hope you enjoyed this analysis/overview. Thank you so much for reading!


11 thoughts on “A Thing of Beauty – John Keats | Poetry Analysis

  1. Boi, show this to your eng teach and she’d be like: SHERLOCK, OH MAHH GAWWWWDDD, YOU SMART SKITTLES!😗😲 Yuh, Love this post, as always! I like that you’re sharing these poems and the meanings behind them…UNCOVAH ZEE ZECRET!!!!!✨🤩

    Liked by 1 person

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