The poem A Thing of Beauty by John Keats conveys the message that Beauty is everywhere, and upon examination may be found. The theme of this work is largely centered on nature, as were many of Keats’ works. In this particular poem Keats describes the affects that beauty can have on a person. “Some shape of beauty moves away the pall / from our dark spirits” (12-13). According to Keats this beauty never diminishes and its affect is felt long after it is gone. Keats emphasizes that beauty is, “Made for our searching,” meaning that some people may find beauty in places that others may not (10). The theme of this poem is that beauty can be found anywhere, and when appreciated can be used to raise your spirits in times of gloom.
One of the poetic elements Keats uses to express his theme is rhyme. One example of how rhyming can be helpful in conveying the meaning of the poem to the reader is found in the very first two lines of the poem. “A thing of beauty is a joy forever: / its loveliness increases; it will never” (1-2). Not only do these lines help the reader to understand the theme of the work, the fact that they rhyme makes them even more meaningful. Another example of how Keats used rhyme to express his theme can be found in the very last line of the poem. The poem was written using rhyming couplets; however the last line does not have another line after it with which to rhyme. “They always must be with us, or we die” (33). This line stands out due to the fact that every other line in the poem is part of a rhyming couplet. By purposely having this line is the last line and by stopping the rhythm that had flowed throughout the poem Keats emphasizes his theme of a need for beauty.
Keats used many other poetic elements in this poem. One other poetic element used by Keats in this poem is imagery. Since the poem is about beauty it is important for imagery to be present in order to give the reader a mental picture of what the speaker feels is beautiful. “Such the sun, the moon, / trees old, and young sprouting a shady boon / for simple sheep; and such are daffodils / with the green world they live in; and clear rills” (13-16). Within these lines the speaker describes things which he finds beautiful. It is imperative that these lines be present so that the reader can imagine this beauty and begin to relate with the speaker. Enjambment was also used by Keats in the poem. Through the use of enjambment Keats is able to keep his rhyme scheme in tact while still conveying his theme. “[un]till they become a cheering light / unto our souls” (30-31). The meaning of these lines are very important to the theme of the poem, however, without the use of enjambment Keats would have either had to sacrifice his rhyme scheme, or change the lines which could have potentially altered their meaning.
Although much of the world has changed in the time between now and when the poem was originally written, the poems theme still holds true today. With the growth of cities, and urban areas it has become much more difficult to appreciate nature and its beauty. However, even in cities today people can find places to get away and appreciate the nature around them. Such is the case in New York City where residents can travel to central park to immerse themselves in the beauty of nature and open up their souls to the, “cheering light.” Although it is still possible for people to appreciate nature as Keats did years ago, many people today are lost in the hustle and bustle of the city.
The communicative power of nature will always be present for those who wish to observe it, as Keats did, however many people have become oblivious to nature, taking it for granted, and becoming overly obsessed with technology and the man made world in which they live. It is understandable that this has happened in the almost two hundred years since Keats has lived because of the evolution of our society. Although much of nature may go overlooked by some people it will always be there for those who wish to immerse themselves in its beauty.