Critic's Literary Criticism on Hyperion

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      Douglas Bush. As a poem of evolution Hyperion has both social and personal aspects. The author of Hyperion...was a child of revolutionary optimism...From a world of medieval fixities, he confronts the melancholy spectacle of endless change, and he arrived at a compromise half Christian, half scientific, the doctrine that all things work out their own perfection under divine control, until the process of change shall give way to the change- lessness of eternity.

      F.R. Leavis. If the first Hyperion is impersonal, it is impersonal in one of the wrong ways. Keats’s art does not tap the vigor either of his aestheticism or of the more serious interests, the maturer moral life, revealed to us in the Letters; no rich sap flows. In the revising, his main operation was an attempt to graft the poem on to his maturer personality—for that is what the use of Moneta, in the added induction, amounts to.

      D.G. James. When we compare the two versions, the outstanding point of contrast is this. The first version is an attempt at high narrative, in a more or less epic manner. Keats was setting out to use his powers of invention. He desired a long, objective poem. In this, he fails. He falls back on something less ambitious, reduces his style from anything approaching the epic level, and writes in ‘‘cantos” instead of ‘‘books”; but above all, he writes something professedly subjective, which is a dream in his mind, and which is indeed frankly about himself and poetry.

       Graham Hough. The second Hyperion is cast in the form of dream, and the added opening describes this dream and its setting. It begins with a short prologue which affords an excellent example of the new tense and muscular verse ... This is an attempt to define the position of poetry. The poet has his dreams in common with other men, but he alone is able to secure them from oblivion. And the poet’s dream differs from the fanatic’s because it is for the world, the fanatic’s only for a sect.

      William Walsh. The idiom which Keats elaborated—or fabricated —for Hyperion was neither genuine Milton nor true Keats; it had neither the ‘beautiful curiosity’ of Milton’s language nor the palpable embodying power of Keats. It was, says Dr. Leavis, “a very qualified Miltonic as transformed by a taste for Spenserian vowels that elope with ease.

      Aileen Ward. In fact, the theme of Hyperion is the struggle of spiritual growth itself. This was the meaning that had been gathering around the original core of his story ....In the second book of Hyperion the Titans debate the reason for their fall, much as do Milton’s rebel angels; and Oceanus, the wisest, gives the answer which Keats seems to have intended at the start. Growth is the law of life; and in the sum of time its direction is upward from chaos to order, from darkness to light.

      Robin Mayhead. But it would not be correct to regard The Fall of Hyperion as an essentially depressing poem. In point of fact, the inadequate poetry of the earlier fragment, by contrast with the spareness and tautness of the Fall, is infinitely more “depressing in effect. The Fall of Hyperion is no more conventionally depressing Shakespeare tragedy. The poem is tragic because it reaches the profound impersonality of tragedy.

      M.R. Ridley. There is, I believe, between the first two books of Hyperion on the one hand, and the first three hundred, lines of The Fall of Hyperion on the other, the difference between a brilliant artistic exercise and the stuff of great poetry, not yet indeed fully wrought, but; the work of a creative maker, not a copyist however talented.

      Macneile Bison. When we pass from the odes to Hyperion, here too we see poetry in the act of growth....The two poets (Keats and Dante) have a subtle kinship in manner of visualization, in the evolution of thought and in use of ornament; put also, and even more vitally, in the way in which their imagination works.

      Oliver Elton. From the first his achievement of epic majesty and style, and of a new heroic verse, were acknowledged; ...(Keats) had the instinct for composition, the poetic oratory, the: words, the music.

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