Keats, Women, and the Demon Poesy

Deirdre Coleman


When Keats abruptly claimed, in one ofhis letters, that 'What the imagination seizes as Beauty must be truth-whether it existed before or not', he expanded upon his somewhat gnomic text by adding: 'The Imagination may be compared to Adam's dreamhe awoke and found it truth'. The allusion is to the nativity of Eve, as described by Milton in Book VIII of Paradise Lost. In this scene, Adam is laid asleep by God but in such a way that he is still able to see, by means of his 'fancy', the creation of Eve from his left rib. Miraculously, the gap between fiction (dream) and actuality closes, so that Eve appears, in the flesh, exactly according to the image of Adam's desire.

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