Mock Exam Essay: To Leigh Hunt

Paper 5: Keats

Word Count: 630 words, or 3 sides of a 16paged Cambridge GCE(A/AS) Examinations Booklet

Final Grade: 80%

Teacher’s Comments: Good conclusion and interpretation. Why no critics’ response?

My Comments: looking again at this essay, I am surprised I did as well as I did. There are a lot of spelling mistakes, hanging dependent clauses and awkward sentences. I do think that I earned points for commenting on Keats’ writing career in relation to Leigh Hunt. I would I liked to study the poem thoroughly enough to be confident in talking about the imagery I so liked to brag about.

‘To Leigh Hunt’ is an Italian sonnet written for its titular character Leigh Hunt by John Keats. At this time, Leigh Hunt had been arrested, leacing his many friends behind. As per the structure of an Italien sonnet, Keats wonders over his pain of his friends departure and tells the audience how instead he should be treated like ‘Flora’ instead. In ‘To Leigh Hunt’s’ final quartrain, Keats reminds himself of all the good that Leigh Hunt has done for him, and how he will forever be grateful to him for his help.

John Keats had a difficult writing career. Few people were interested in his heavily Hellenistic, Romantic poetry. Leigh Hunt not only published some of his early poems in the 1810’s, but also assisted him in publishing his own volume of poems. In this poem, Keats explores the very methods that made him unpopular at this time: rich, vibrant imagery, heavily reliant on diction and Greek mythism.

Imagery and Greek mythism is characteristic of Keats’ poetry. In ‘On the Sea’, Keats makes mention to ‘Hecate’, the goddess of witchcraft and in ‘Ode to Pysche’, he sings to Pyscho, ‘Olympus’ [youngest] bourne’. In every single one of Keats’ poems, he makes use of vibrant, imaginative imagery based heavily on nature and creates a sense of peace and awe as he does in ‘To Leigh Hunt’.

In ‘To Leigh Hunt’, Keats compares ‘The shrine of flora’ to the celebration that they will present to Hunt when he is released. It eases the audience’s spirits from the cold ‘early-morn’ to the hopeful ‘early May’. I personally felt star-struck as he created a beautiful fantasy full of ‘nymphs soft voic’d’ and colorful with ‘roses, and pinks and violets’ too! Leigh Hunt’s company ‘left delights as high as these’ in Keats mind, and he will not soon forget it.

He uses the repetition of the word ‘no’ on line 3 and 5 to emphasize just how much he’s lost as a result of Leigh Hunt’s arrest. All of these wonderful ‘smiling days’ have left him. ‘Glory and loveliness have pass’d away’ as he departed. He ends the poem somberly in reverence of all that Hunt has done for him. I find it ironic that for all Keats’ talk of sacrifices and ‘rose and violets’, all he can offer Hunt are his ‘poor’ poems. ‘[He] feels…free’ in Hunt’s embrace of his work and poems, and is baffled at ‘such a man’s’ interest

‘To Leigh Hunt’ also captures Keats’ preoccupation with Greek myths and nature. Although Keats was not particularly religious to either Greek myth or Christianity, he often uses Olympus’ divine connotations in his own writing to make his scenes and concerns bigger than life. A recurrent theme in Keats’ work that is shown in ‘To Leigh Hunt’ is immortality through an artistic work and will. Although the end of the Renaissance and beginning of the Industrial Revolution have faded, ‘Flora in her early May’ men like Leigh Hunt remind Keats that a story can last a ‘dead eternity’.

In relation to the rise of the Industrial Revolution, natural paradises of ‘young and gay’ harvest and ‘roses and violets’ are also fading away from England in all places but his own mind. For though he fears that his own name will be ‘writ in water’ , his friendship with people like Leigh Hunt allows him to ‘ever bless [his] destiny’.

Honestly, “Leigh Hunt’ was not one of my favorite poems. However, although it lacked the complexity of praise for Pysche in ‘Ode to Pysche’ or the simple simplicity of nature in ‘O solitude! If I must dwell in thee’ It was an honest poem to a friend that makes him ‘feel free’. To Leigh Hunt is ‘a leafy luxury’.



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