“Keats’ daring and bold style earned him nothing but criticism from two of England’s more revered publications, Blackwood’s Magazine and the Quarterly Review. The attacks were an extension of heavy criticism lobbed at Hunt and his cadre of young poets. The most damning of those pieces had come from Blackwood’s, whose piece, “On the Cockney School of Poetry,” shook Keats and made him nervous to publish “Endymion.”
Keats’ hesitation was warranted. Upon its publication the lengthy poem received a lashing from the more conventional poetry community. One critic called the work, the “imperturbable driveling idiocy of Endymion.” Others found the four-book structure and its general flow hard to follow and confusing.
How much of an effect this criticism had on Keats is uncertain, but it is clear that he did take notice of it. But Shelley’s later accounts of how the criticism destroyed the young poet and led to his declining health, however, have been refuted.
Keats in fact, had already moved beyond “Endymion” even before it was published. By the end of 1817, he was reexamining poetry’s role in society. In lengthy letters to friends, Keats outlined his vision of a kind of poetry that drew its beauty from real world human experience rather than some mythical grandeur. ”
“It has been an old comparison for our urging on – the Beehive; however, it seems to me that we should rather be the flower than the Bee – for it is a false notion that more is gained by receiving than giving – no, the receiver and the giver are equal in their benefits. The flower, I doubt not, receives a fair guerdon from the Bee – its leaves blush deeper in the next spring – and who shall say between man and woman which is the most delighted”
Extract from a Keats’ letter
When Man has arrived at a certain ripeness in intellect any one grand and spiritual passage serves him as a starting-post towards all ‘the two-and-thirty Palaces.’ How happy is such a voyage of concentration, what delicious diligent Indolence! …Nor will this sparing touch of noble Books be any irreverence to their Writers – for perhaps the honors paid by Man to Man are trifles in comparison to the Benefit done by great works to the ‘spirit and pulse of good’ by their mere passive existence. Memory should not be called Knowledge – Many have original minds who do not think it – they are led away by Custom. Now it appears to me that almost any Man may like the spider spin from his own inwards his own airy Citadel – the points of leaves and twigs on thich the spider begins her work are few, and she fills the air with a beautiful ciruitin