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Reawakening Lycidas: Keats, Milton, and Epic

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Meiko O'Halloran



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Oxford University Press, 2020.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


While Keats's fascination with Milton's Paradise Lost has long been established in critical studies, his reading of Milton's other works remains relatively underexplored. This article reveals a hitherto unrecognized facet of Keats's interest in Milton by examining his surprising response to Lycidas (1638) during his visit to Staffa in 1818. I argue that Keats's reimagining of Lycidas reveals his interest in understanding the painful personal processes through which Milton became the author of Paradise Lost. Analysing a selection of his poems and letters both before and during his walking tour of North Britain, I demonstrate that Keats's idea of Milton deepens during his journey, enabling him to see the vulnerable grieving poet of Lycidas, whose response to personal sorrow ultimately opens up his path to epic poetry, as integral to Milton's development. The poem Keats composed about seeing Fingal's Cave, 'Not Aladin magian', is in thoughtful dialogue with Milton's pastoral elegy, and provides a key to understanding Keats's approach to his own epic project. In Hyperion and The Fall of Hyperion, Keats would focus on a suffering that he saw as essential to both his own artistic transformation and a wider cultural renewal.

Publication metadata

Author(s): O'Halloran M

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: The Review of English Studies

Year: 2020

Volume: 71

Issue: 298

Pages: 93–116

Print publication date: 01/02/2020

Online publication date: 18/05/2019

Acceptance date: 12/04/2019

Date deposited: 08/07/2019

ISSN (print): 0034-6551

ISSN (electronic): 1471-6968

Publisher: Oxford University Press


DOI: 10.1093/res/hg2038


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