Sunday, November 28, 2010

“Hyperion, A Fragment” A Synopsis

BOOK ONE
Thea’s Visit to Saturn
The Titans had been defeated by their own offspring, the Olympians, who had risen in revolt against them. Saturn, the leader of the Titans, sat in a valley in a mood of deep dejection. He sat, “quiet as a stone.” He was feeling absolutely listless because of the defeat that he and his fellow-Titans had suffered.
To him came Thea, the wife of the sun-god, Hyperion. She told him that she was feeling as miserable as he on account of the defeat that they had suffered. Saturn said that he had lost not only his empire but his identity and his real self also. Thea said that he should go with her in order to join his fellow-Titans who had taken shelter in a den far away from this valley. Saturn got up to go with her.
Hyperion, the Sun-god, Still Supreme in His Sphere
There was one Titan who had still not been defeated and who still held sway over his sphere. He was Hyperion, the god of the sun. But even he was feeling apprehensive lest he should be overthrown. His anxiety about the possibility of his being dethroned made him rest­less. In this state of mind he heard a voice whispering into his ears. It was the voice of his aged father. Coelus (or Uranus), who now spoke to him from somewhere in heaven. Coelus urged him to go and meet his fellow-gods who had been defeated and who were therefore feeling very despondent. On hearing these words. Hyperion got up and, leaving the planet of the sun, plunged into the deep night in order to go down to the earth and meet his defeated fellow-Titans.
BOOK TWO
Saturn’s Arrival Among the Defeated Gods
In the meantime Saturn and Thea had arrived at the place where most of the defeated Titans and Giants had taken refuge in a cave among the rocks; On arriving there Saturn felt even sadder than before. He spoke to the defeated Titans about the prevailing state of affairs. He said that he could not understand how and why they had been defeated. Saturn asked the ex-god of the sea, Oceanus, if he could offer any help and guidance to them all.
The Views of Oceanus and Clymene
Oceanus in his reply said that Saturn was neither the beginning nor the end. The Titans had surpassed their parents in almost all respects and had displaced them in order to become the rulers of the universe. Now a new race of gods had proved to be superior to_ the Titans and Giants, and the new generation had therefore every right to overthrow them and to become the rulers of the universe in their place. “A fresh perfection treads on our heels”, said Oceanus. He told his fellow-gods that they should reconcile themselves to the change which had taken place in their lives. He went on to say that it was the eternal law of Nature that “first in beauty should be first in might.” Then the goddess Ceymene spoke. She said that she had heard a music far superior to that with which the Titans had been familiar and which they themselves could produce. What she meant was that in the sphere of music too the Titans had been superseded by a new race of gods represented by Apollo.
Enceladus’s Opposition to Oceanus and Clymene
While both Oceanus and Clymene wanted to convince the defeated gods that the best course for them would be to reconcile themselves to their changed circumstances, Enceladus, the Giant, felt deeply annoyed with what these two speakers had said. He regarded the dethronement of the Titans as an unbearable humiliation and he therefore suggested that the Titans should not give way to despair but should make a vigorous effort to regain their kingdoms. He said that their fellow-god Hyperion was still undefeated and that therefore they should not lose hope altogether. Just then Hyperion arrived at the scene in all his glory. On seeing him, some of the gods, especially Enceladus, felt even more encouraged in the stand which Enceladus had taken.
BOOK THREE
At this point in the poem, Keats deviates from the story of the Titans and thinks of the premature death of his brother Tom. A few lines later he says that he would like to sing about Apollo, “the father of all verse.” He then goes on to describe the strange experience which Apollo had on his native island of Delos. Apollo was roaming about in a valley on that island when he saw an “awful godess” coming towards him. Apollo was surprised to see this mysterious figure who seemed to have come from nowhere. He told the goddess that he had once dreamt of her and that she must be goddess Mnemosyne. The goddess told him that she had certainly appeared to him in a dream and that it was she who had placed a golden lyre by his side when he was asleep. From this golden lyre, Apollo had been able to produce a kind of music which, in sweetness and melody, exceeded all music which had previously been heard anywhere in the universe. The goddess now asked Apollo why he had been feeling so sad and why he had been weeping. He replied that there were certain things which he did not understand. He wanted to know the nature of the stars, the identity of the power which controlled the forces of Nature, the divinity who ruled the universe, and so on. He said that he had been feeling troubled by an “aching ignorance” of all these facts. Mnemosyne made no reply to Apollo’s question. Apollo’s mind was now suddenly illumined by a new discovery. Mnemosyne’s face brought to his mind the entire past history of mankind, with all its joys and sorrows, its triumphs and defeats, its agonies, and all its “dire events”. This new awareness and this new knowledge made Apollo feel that he had become immortal. Wild convulsions shook his whole body. He experienced an unbearable agony and he seemed to be on the verge of death. But the very next moment life seemed to return to him. He had “died into life.” He shrieked in agony and ecstasy. Then he realized that he had become a god. This is how Keats describes the deification of Apollo. In symbolic terms, Apollo represents Keats himself; and the description of Apollo’s transfiguration or deification means the ripening or maturing of Keats’s poetic powers.

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