Article Analysis of Eric J Wilson's 'John Keats: The Miracle of Melancholia'
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John Keats: The miracle of melancholia
How can being 'sad' be 'good?' According to the British Romantic poet John Keats, the suffering Keats endured in his life was the wellspring of his art, rather than something to be avoided. That is why Professor Eric G. Wilson entitles his article about Keats: "The miracle of melancholia." Keats lost his father when he was age nine to a freak accident and his mother and brother to tuberculosis. The poet eventually succumbed to the disease himself at a very young age, after a great deal of suffering. Unlike some of the other Romantic poets, Keats was not born to a life of privilege. Because of his family's financial circumstances "he was taken from a boarding school he loved and required to apprentice as an apothecary; he then underwent a gruesome course in surgery in one of London's hospitals (in the days before anesthesia)" (Wilson 2008: 1).
Wilson admires Keats because Keats took tragedies and used them for a creative purpose. Keats' poetry is filled with a sense of the transience of the human condition. For Keats, a "World of Pains and troubles" is necessary "to school an Intelligence and make it a Soul" (Wilson 2008:1). Keats' famous poem "An Ode to a Grecian Urn" is based upon the contrast of the static, unchanging figures on the Attic vase, versus the reality of fleshy human existence that is forever heading very quickly towards death. For most of his writing career, Keats knew that his days were short, and that he might not