« Keats’s Dharma


When I was in high school, I fell in love with the word music of John Keats, and I have never looked back. His verses epitomized the art of poetry for me. As for what he was saying, I felt I understood it very well. In the “Ode on a Grecian Urn,” our individual lives are transitory while the beauty of art endures. In the “Ode to a Nightingale,” the beauty of nature alleviates the oppressions of daily existence. Nature is not quite as consoling as art, however: the conclusion is bittersweet – which is how we like our sweets in high school – because the bird flies away at the end. The “Ode on Melancholy” goes to the very core of adolescent psychology: how to luxuriate in your depression. The sonnet “When I have fears that I may cease to be” trenchantly gives voice to the terror that every teenager feels – what if my life is cut short? It ends with a sinking feeling at the contemplation of the nothingness of death. The sonnet “Why did I laugh tonight?” memorably makes the familiar point that my life is intensified by my knowledge that I must die. The sonnet “Bright star” compares the star’s steadfast shining to the poet’s enduring love.

Open PDF
About Stephen Kennamer

For several years I have taught a course titled The Anthropology of Evil. I chose the term “anthropology,” not to indicate a restriction to the study of evil among primitive tribes, but rather to widen the lens to take in every relevant discipline: history, philosophy, theology, psychology, sociology, and current events.

Contact Stephen Kennamer...