the rigorous m

bits and bobs, quotes and catching up

Gluck on Keats on death

Posted by rigorousm on November 12, 2014

… Keats was talking about death, which remains, as long as one is talking, imminent. But pressingly imminent, for Keats, even in 1818. He had already nursed a mother through her dying and had watched her symptoms reappear in his brother Tom. Consumption was the “family disease”; Keats’s medical training equipped him to recognize its symptoms. The death imminent to Keats was a forfeit of the physical world, the world of the senses. That world– this world– was heaven; in the other he could not believe, nor could he see his life as a ritual preparation. So he immersed himself in the momentary splendor of the material world, which led always to the idea of loss. That is, if we recognize movement and change but no longer believe in anything beyond death, then all evolution is perceived as movement away, the stable element, the referent, being what was, not what will be, a world as stationary and alive as the scenes on the Grecian urn.

— Louise Gluck, “Against Sincerity,” Proofs & Theories, pp 38-39.


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