John Keats has left a memorable list of poetries behind even though he left the world at the young age of 25, demonstrating his absolute skills as an artist. Some of his poems are included in the English poetry curriculum across the globe. So, the 10 best poems from John Keats are mentioned below for the readers. The poems have been placed in order based on the use of literary devices and poetic excellence.
Poem # 1
A type of ode written with the title of “To Autumn” first appeared in 1820, though, it was published a year back. This poem is loaded with metaphors of seasons, weather, food, and daily activities which have made this poem ranked as one of the best poems written by John Keats. The most beautiful presentation is of autumn as a personification. Although this season occasionally makes readers melancholic and depressed, this poem has shown the lighter side of the season that it has its own music. Filled with rhetorical questions by the end, Keats hides his depressive personality and gives optimism to his readers, a new phenomenon in his poetry, demonstrating the other side of his personality. Some of the memorable verses of this ode are as follows.
- Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, / Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun.
- Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.
- What are the songs of spring? Ay, where are they? / Think not of them, thou has thy music too, –.
On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer
Though this poem is listed among the best poems, it is actually a sonnet and not an ode. The reason lies in the appreciation of Homer and the translation of Chapman in a way that it is a subtle expression of pride and appreciation. Appearing first in 1816 long before “To Autumn,” this simple sonnet shows the poetic talent of Keats. He seems to talk about the translator to show that he has never understood Homer completely until he came across Chapman’s translation, a tribute to his translation skills. Names of some mythological figures show his familiarity with Grecian art and literature. Some of the laudable verses from the sonnet are as follows.
- Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
- Yet did I never breathe its pure serene.
- Look’d at each other with a wild surmise.
Published in July 1919 in the journal, Annals of the Fine Arts, this poem demonstrated the consummate skills of John Keats for using a bird to show his understanding of human life. The poem has been included because of its significance of the season, use of beautiful phrases, and excellent metaphors. The poem presents the poet in the midst of a forest listening attentively to a melodious song of a nightingale when he becomes enamored of the music of the moment but turns back to his life full of worries and woes. Even the music has the power to make him love “easful Death.” This continues with the use of similes, metaphors, and even direct apostrophes. Some of the excellent lines of the poem are as follows.
- That though, light-winged Dryad of the trees.
- That I might drink, and leave the world unseen.
- The weariness, the fever, and the fret / Here, where men sit and hear each other groan.
- Darkling I listen; and, for man y a time / I have been half in love with easeful Death.
First published in 1820, this beautiful ballad has set records in popularity among the young as well as the adult. It stands out because of the forcefulness of its thematic presentation and storyline of the medieval knight losing himself in the world of fantasy and dreams. Although the knight does not come to terms with life after he comes into his senses, the seduction of the lady continues haunting him for long. The beautiful phrases and verses have made this an interesting read such as “A faery’s child” seems to be a girl from the world of fantasy. Some other excellent literary devices such as metaphors, similes, and imagery show their forcefulness. Some of its most popular lines are as follows.
- I met a lady in the meads, / Full beautiful—a faery’s child.
- She looked at me as she did love, / And made sweet moan.
- I saw pale kings and princes, too, / Pale warriors, death-pale where they all.
- They cried—‘La Belle Dame sans Merci / Thee hath in thrall!’
Ode on a Grecian Urn
This poem presents the theme given on an urn that the poet sees and describes through words. It was Published in 1820. Although hailed as one of the greatest poems in terms of this depiction of the religious deities on it. Comprising total of five stanzas with each having 10 verses, this poem shows the brilliance of the writer’s mind through the use of unique phrases and memorable verses. Some literary devices also amaze the readers when reading them such as “unravish’d bride of quietness”, “Sylvan historian”, “Heard melodies” and “soft pipes.” Some memorable lines of the poem are as follows.
- Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard / Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on.
- More happy love! more happy, happy love!
- Beauty is truth, truth beauty,– that is all.
Ode to Apollo
Although not counted among the best odes, this poem is also ranked among the best poems. Praising Apollo, Keats comes to the point that he is the worshipper of Apollo, making pleas that he may be given attention even if as a cursed one. He uses Grecian illusions as well as references with unusual metaphors and phrases that speak volumes about his poetic talent. The theme of praising the Delphic deity seems quite unique, the reason that the poem has been included among his best ones. Some memorable lines of this poem are as follows.
- Why was I not cursh’d – such pitiful germ?
- And blaspheme so loudly.
- And live for that honor, to stoop to thee now?
On the Grasshopper and Cricket
Although very simple and down-to-earth plain, this sonnet is included as one of the best poems of John Keats on account of its beauty and innocent theme. The poem just talks about how a cricket continues his song and how a grasshopper sings when it feels easy. According to Keats, it is the poetry of earth that continues to make the poet gladden at this raw display of nature and its beauty. The use of literary devices and memorable phrases have made this poet interesting and unique. It is even fit to teach the literary students and scholars to deduce the poetic artistry of John Keats. Some of its memorable verses are as follows.
- The poetry of earth is never death.
- When all the birds are faint with the hot sun.
- The poetry of earth is ceasing never.
Ode on Indolence
Originally published in 1848 with an unknown date about its composition, this ode is interesting and one of the best written poems by John Keats. It is because of the presentation of three personifications of Love, Ambition, and Poetry in such a way as if they are just shadows and have come to visit the poet who is unaware of them as well as their intentions. The narrative oscillates between the poetic artistry and the story of these three figures that play a significant role in the life of the poet himself. The poem is studded with other literary devices such as assonance and consonance. Some memorable verses of the ode are as given below.
- One morn before me were three figures seen.
- How is it, Shadows! That I knew ye not?
- The first was a fair Maid, and Love her name.
Published during the best years of Keats, “Lamia” is a very beautiful narrative about a nymph. In fact, its length has come into its path to becoming the best poem. The pome shows Hermes striving to reach beauty but is trapped by a serpent who happens to be Lamia. The deal is struck between the two to make Lamia a human being and she to provide him that nymph. The story ends with Lycius’s death who marries Lamia when she reaches Corinth. The poem shows the use of beautiful characters and Greek references. Some of the best verses of this poem are as follows.
- His golden throne, bet warm on amorous theft.
- For somewhere in that sacred island dwelt / A nymph, to whom all hoofed Satyrs knelt.
- I took compassion on her, bad her steep.
Ode to Psyche
One of the earliest poems, “Ode to Psyche” is among his best odes. It appeared in 1819 during the best years of Keats when he came face to face with the new reality of death causing devastation to his own family. The poem has five stanzas and shows the best use of phrases, Greek references, metaphors, and poetic diction. The poet bows before the goddess of Psyche, using an apostrophe at the beginning of the poem and paying tributes to her after seeking pardon “And pardon that thy secrets should be sung.” Some other memorable lines from the poem are as follows.
- Surely I dreamt to-day, or did I see.
- Saw two fair creatures, couched side by side.
- Yes, I will be thy priest, and build a fane.