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Book Title: Hyperion a Fragment|
The author of the book: John Keats
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 19.79 MB
Edition: Kessinger Publishing
Date of issue: June 1st 2004
ISBN 13: 9781419125119
Read full description of the books Hyperion a Fragment:“And first, as thou wast not the first of powers,
So art thou not the last; it cannot be:
Thou art not the beginning nor the end.”
According to Harold Bloom, all great poetry only emerges through the poet’s conflict with his predecessors. For Bloom, the agon and struggle of the poet against his overbearing influencers is the source of the generative power that offers us great poetry.
If this is indeed true, Hyperion is the site of Keats’ own agon against Milton, more precisely, the Milton of Paradise Lost. In parallel with the Fall of Satan’s angels, Keats portrays the fall of the Titans who are soon to be replaced by the Greek pantheon. In Hyperion’s monologues, one finds Satan’s psychological torment, in the gathering of the Titans, the council of fallen angels in Pandemonium, and in Enceladus, the bellicose vigor of Moloch. The presence of Paradise Lost in this poem is undeniable.
However, Hyperion is by no means a mere copy of Paradise Lost. What Keats elicits from the story of the Titans’ fall is the universal process of mortalization, the realization that one is part of the old about to be swept away by the new. Regardless of whether or not the Titans would have been persuaded by Belial’s seductive defeatism in Book II of Paradise Lost, they do not possess the luxury of taking dominion in the new realm of Hell. For the Titans, the problem is existential - and the next step in history necessitates their utter annihilation. While Satan is to accompany Adam and Eve on “their solitary way” through the start of human history, for the Titans, a view of the future is no different from a view of their own demise. The budding beauty in Jove, Neptune, and Apollo that the Titans admire is in fact a signifier for their own end. Unlike the fallen angels, the Titans have no hope, no future to look forward to. This crushing feeling of utter impotence is perhaps best captured by Saturn’s laments: ”I am gone / Away from my own bosom: I have left / My strong identity, my real self.” It is this terror of mortalization that remains absent in Milton and displays Keats’ efforts at evasion from the great poet. Although Adam and Eve also become mortal in Paradise Lost, Michael’s comforting tales of the coming Savior prevent them from descending into the great despair that grips the Titans. Unlike Milton, Keats plunges us into total darkness, offering us characters for whom not even a glimmer of hope remains.
Despite the fact that Hyperion is undoubtedly an incredible poem, I cannot give it a 5-star rating for the same reason that I can only articulate this review in relation to Paradise Lost. Although even the strongest poets endure “some self-crippling, some wounding of energies” in the agon with their predecessors, Keats’ wounds in his struggle against Milton proved to be too great. Milton weighs too heavily on Keats for him to preserve his own strength, and Hyperion remained only a fragment precisely because Keats acknowledged that it was too Miltonic. Perhaps if Keats had lived past the tender age of 25 and completed his second attempt at the story, The Fall of Hyperion: A Dream, he would have poeticized the fall of the Titans with just as much brilliance as Milton’s account of the fall of man.
Read information about the authorJohn 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. Keats's letters, which expound on his aesthetic theory of "negative capability", are among the most celebrated by any writer.
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