“This warm scribe, my hand”: John Keats’s Tactile Poetics


  • Laure-Hélène Anthony Université de Bourgogne


This article purposes to argue that Keats’s tactile poetics demonstrates the poet’s willingness to embody both human experience and the experience of writing itself. By figuring the sense of touch, his poems display a desire to meet with the other and with the world (both literally and metaphorically) in order to make sense of the duality of touch. The article will first return to Jean-Luc Nancy’s conception of the body as a point of contact and separation. This theoretical frame will contribute to outlining Keats’s poetics of touch, focusing on the role of contact and affect in the comparison between poetry and the beloved woman. More specifically, the article will consider Keats’s “Ode to Psyche” in light of Jean-Luc Nancy’s Corpus and Jacques Derrida’s focus on Psyche. In both Nancy’s essay and Keats’s poem, the goddess Psyche “lies unaware” — she is observed and touched by a gaze. Psyche’s body represents the body “that we try to touch through thought”, as the poet endeavours to build a tangible yet entirely immaterial temple for her inside his brain.