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Ode On Melancholy Analysis

Author: poem of John Keats Type: poem Views: 15

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No, no, go not to Lethe, neither twist
   Wolf's-bane, tight-rooted, for its poisonous wine;
Nor suffer thy pale forehead to be kiss'd
   By nightshade, ruby grape of Proserpine;
       Make not your rosary of yew-berries,
   Nor let the beetle, nor the death-moth be
       Your mournful Psyche, nor the downy owl
A partner in your sorrow's mysteries;
   For shade to shade will come too drowsily,
       And drown the wakeful anguish of the soul.

But when the melancholy fit shall fall
   Sudden from heaven like a weeping cloud,
That fosters the droop-headed flowers all,
   And hides the green hill in an April shroud;
Then glut thy sorrow on a morning rose,
   Or on the rainbow of the salt sand-wave,
       Or on the wealth of globed peonies;
Or if thy mistress some rich anger shows,
   Emprison her soft hand, and let her rave,
       And feed deep, deep upon her peerless eyes.

She dwells with Beauty--Beauty that must die;
   And Joy, whose hand is ever at his lips
Bidding adieu; and aching Pleasure nigh,
   Turning to poison while the bee-mouth sips:
Ay, in the very temple of Delight
   Veil'd Melancholy has her sovran shrine,
       Though seen of none save him whose strenuous tongue
   Can burst Joy's grape against his palate fine;
His soul shalt taste the sadness of her might,
       And be among her cloudy trophies hung.


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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||

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John Keats is one of the greatest poets of the 19th century. This is quite remarkable since he only lived to be 25. In one famous poem that he wrote, “Ode on Melancholy,” Keats raises many questions for the reader. What is melancholy? Why does Keats decide on an ode? How does Keats react to melancholy?
Keats urges his reader to not think about suicide when melancholy is about. He warns them not to take poisons such as Wolf’s-bane, nightshade, and yew berries. He believes that such things will ameliorate melancholy, and melancholy is not an emotion that should be ameliorated. Instead, when one is melancholic one should “glut thy sorrow” on the beauty of a rose or the rainbow of salt and sea. It is interesting that Keats uses these objects to represent beauty, for they are short-lived. Roses are beautiful for only a short period of time, and then they wilt or fade away. When one thinks about the rainbow of salt and sea, they envision a beach were the tide brings in what appears to be oil stained water, wherein, a rainbow appears, but then is swept away again by the receding tide. The rainbow, like the rose, holds only temporary beauty. Perhaps by using these images, Keats is implying that what makes these things all the more beautiful is that man can not grasp their beauty for long.
Keats uses an “objective correlative” in which he created a situation that made the reader feel what he wanted him to feel rather than simply telling the reader the emotion directly. T.S. Eliot coined the term “objective correlative” in order to express the idea that a writer, in order to express an emotion, must use events or objects that form a “formula for that particular emotion.” He does this by drawing the reader into the poem, since everyone has at some point experienced melancholy. He draws upon the reader’s own personal experience with melancholy in order to express his emotion. He does this in quotes such as, “and drown the wakeful anguish of the soul.”
An ode is a poem of celebration or praise. In an “Ode on Melancholy,” Keats is praising melancholy instead of viewing instead of viewing it as a burden. In this poem, Keats uses contrast as the key to pleasure. Melancholy is not the moment for death, but an opportunity for a new experience. It is the fine balance between pain and pleasure that is ideal. The final stanza emphasizes this idea: Beauty is always ephemeral; joy is always about to leave, but these are man’s most intense moments. With the realization that beauty is indeed fleeting comes intense melancholy, which Keats defines as the “wakeful anguish of the soul.”
Keats does not suggest that one should avoid melancholy, or should one try to cheer themselves up. He urges them instead to balance their pain with tremendous pleasure and relish the contrast.

| Posted on 2011-11-14 | by a guest

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