Here, I want to share with you a little story about Keats as presented by Stephen Fry, but first a little poem written by Robert Frost:
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
by Robert Frost (found here)
Frost’s poems are critiqued in the “Anthology of Modern American Poetry”, Oxford University Press, where it is mentioned that behind a sometimes charmingly familiar and rural façade, Frost’s poetry frequently presents pessimistic and menacing undertones which often are not recognized nor analyzed. (read more about him here)
And now I’ll let Stephen Fry speak:
“When Keats was a teenager (so the story goes) he came accross a line from Spenser’s Faerie Queen. Not even a line, actually: a phrase:
…the sea-shouldering whale.
some versions of the story maintain that Keats burst into tears when he read this. He had never known before what poetic language could do. He had no idea it was capable of making images spring so completely to life. In an instant he was able to see, hear and feel the roar, the plunging, the spray, the great mass and slow colossal upheaving energy of a whale, all from two words yoked together: ‘sea’ and ‘shouldering’. From that moment on Keats got poetry.”
Stephen Fry – The Ode Less Travelled (2007 edition, page 308)