"An 'ignorant and unsettled pretender' to culture and a 'bantling' who has 'already learned to lisp sedition'."
It was in these terms that the Tory Blackwood's Magazine reviled Keats's poetry in 1818. This is not to imply that Keats (1795-1821) was, like Shelley, a political poet. Indeed, he is the 'one great English Romantic poet whose prime belief was in art and beauty'. Love, art, sorrow, the natural world and the nature of the imagination are the preoccupying themes of his poetry. However, as John Barnard shows in this selection, Keats's poetry is often indirectly critical of conventional political, religious and sexual beliefs. In his Introduction he discusses the focus of the volume, which emphasises Keats's place as a 'second-generation Romantic'. While Keats sought to embody in his work the 'dreams of art', he was also aware of the limitations of the claims of poetry and the imagination and remained deeply conscious of human suffering.