John Keats pp 39-74 | Cite as

History and Vocation in Poems (1817)

  • William A. Ulmer


Chapter 2 explores the ways in which Keats’s Cockney affiliations helped him establish a professional identity and begin his career. The chapter focuses on Poems (1817), first, for Keats’s gestures of poetic self-validation, especially his presentation of himself as the heir to a vocationally legitimating tradition; and secondly, for the volume’s coterie aspect, as extended by Keats’s historicism beyond Hampstead to a broader community of supportive “presiders.” There are readings of the poems in which Keats envisions a Spenserian genealogy for his own poetic identity; of “I stood tip-toe” and “Sleep and Poetry” for their historicizing of myth; and of the “Chapman’s Homer” sonnet, in which Cortez’s speechlessness, figuring the inaccessibility of the historical subject, concedes the limits of the historical imagination.


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Authors and Affiliations

  • William A. Ulmer
    • 1
  1. 1.University of AlabamaTuscaloosaUSA

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