Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

“A poet is the most unpoetical of any thing in existence…”

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Portrait of John Keats by William Hilton

As to the poetical character itself…it is not itself—it has no self—it is everything and nothing. It has no character—it enjoys light and shade; it lives in gusto, be it foul or fair, high or low, rich or poor, mean or elevated. It has as much delight in conceiving an Iago as an Imogen. What shocks the virtuous philosopher delights the chameleon poet. It does no harm from its relish of the dark side of things any more than from its taste for the bright one, because they both end in speculation. A poet is the most unpoetical of any thing in existence because he has no identity—he is continually infor[ming] and filling some other body. The sun, the moon, the sea and men and women who are creatures of impulse are poetical and have about them an unchangeable attribute—the poet has none, no identity. He is certainly the most unpoetical of all god’s creatures.

John Keats, in a letter to Richard Woodhouse

Written by nevalalee

October 18, 2014 at 9:00 am

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