Keats' Poems and Letters

The Sublime in the Poetry of Keats and Coleridge College

The philosophical concept of The Sublime, though typically hard to define due to its complex nature, is most often described as an object or a surrounding which evokes a feeling of profound awe when viewed. The key difference between the concept of The Sublime and the more straightforward one of ‘beauty’ is that The Sublime, though awe-evoking, usually comes with a sense of uneasiness and often even fear, rather than evoking the sole response of delight in the way an object of beauty does.[1] Sublime entities include mountains, oceans, caves and cathedrals, which all can simultaneously evoke both joy and terror when one finds itself in its present.

Coleridge, who had a continuous fascination with The Sublime - apparent in both his works of poetry and in his autobiographical writing - differentiated between The Sublime and the beautiful by use of a metaphoric circle. In his Biographia Literaria he suggests; ‘The circle is a beautiful figure in itself; it becomes Sublime, when I contemplate eternity under that figure’. This analogy indicates a need for further exploration and contemplation when faced with The Sublime’. [2] As Coleridge conveys, there is no simple definition or understanding of The Sublime, and that is because the...

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