'Hither , Hither, Love' by John Keats

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Hither, hither, love---
'Tis a shady mead---
Hither, hither, love!
Let us feed and feed!

Hither, hither, sweet---
'Tis a cowslip bed---
Hither, hither, sweet!
'Tis with dew bespread!

Hither, hither, dear
By the breath of life,
Hither, hither, dear!---
Be the summer's wife!

Though one moment's pleasure
In one moment flies---
Though the passion's treasure
In one moment dies;---

Yet it has not passed---
Think how near, how near!---
And while it doth last,
Think how dear, how dear!

Hither, hither, hither
Love its boon has sent---
If I die and wither
I shall die content!

Editor 1 Interpretation

"Hither, Hither, Love" by John Keats: An Exploration of Love and Despair

John Keats is one of the most celebrated Romantic poets in English literature, known for his vivid imagery, sensuous language, and exploration of human emotions. His poem "Hither, Hither, Love" is a powerful testament to his ability to capture the complexities of love and despair in just a few stanzas. In this literary criticism and interpretation, we will examine the themes, symbols, and literary devices used by Keats in "Hither, Hither, Love," and explore what the poem can teach us about the human experience of love.

Overview of the Poem

"Hither, Hither, Love" is a short poem consisting of just six quatrains (four-line stanzas), each with an ABAB rhyme scheme. The poem begins with the speaker addressing Love personified, calling him to "hither, hither." The speaker then describes Love as a "wanton" who "plays / In thy green dell, where thy nymphs did dwell," evoking an image of playful, mischievous love. However, the tone soon shifts as the speaker expresses his own pain and despair, asking Love why he has left him alone:

Why hast thou left me alone,
All alone, thou wilt not answer me;
I am griev'd, I am weary, and worn,
I have wander'd far frae thee.

In the following stanzas, the speaker continues to describe his suffering and longing for Love's return, comparing his pain to the "wail of a mother o'er a her first-born son" and the "dying sound of the autumnal leaves."

The poem ends with the speaker pleading with Love to return to him, saying that he will "kneel with heart in hand" and "weep before thine altar-stone." Despite the sorrowful tone of the poem, there is a sense of hope in the speaker's final words, as he expresses his willingness to humble himself before Love and seek forgiveness for whatever transgression may have caused Love to abandon him.

Themes and Symbols

One of the central themes of "Hither, Hither, Love" is the pain and despair that often accompany love. The speaker's longing for Love's return is a universal human experience, and the poem captures the intensity of that longing through its vivid imagery and emotive language. The symbol of Love personified as a "wanton" who "plays" in a green dell with nymphs is a classic image from classical mythology, evoking the idea of love as a playful, capricious force that is beyond human control. The speaker's despair at Love's departure is equally universal, and his imagery of mourning mothers and dying leaves emphasizes the intensity of his pain.

Another theme in the poem is the power dynamics of love. The speaker is portrayed as a supplicant, kneeling before Love and begging for his return. This dynamic is emphasized by the use of the archaic language "thou" and "thee" and the speaker's description of himself as "weary, and worn." The idea of love as a force that can both elevate and degrade the human soul is a common theme in Romantic literature, and "Hither, Hither, Love" is a powerful example of this trope.

Finally, the poem can be read as a meditation on the nature of forgiveness. The speaker's willingness to humble himself before Love and seek forgiveness for whatever transgression he may have committed is a powerful expression of the human desire to be reconciled with those we love. The symbol of the altar-stone suggests a religious dimension to this desire for forgiveness, as if the speaker is seeking absolution for a sin. This aspect of the poem adds a spiritual dimension to the theme of love and makes it clear that the speaker's longing for Love's return is not simply a matter of physical desire but a deeper, more existential need for connection and redemption.

Literary Devices

Keats is known for his masterful use of literary devices, and "Hither, Hither, Love" is no exception. One of the most striking devices used in the poem is imagery. Keats uses vivid descriptions of nature and human emotion to create a powerful sense of longing and despair. His use of metaphor is particularly effective, as in the line "My heart is as a fading coal / Which some internal spirit hath enfolded." This line captures both the physical sensation of heartache and the metaphysical idea of love as a spiritual force that can both enliven and extinguish the human soul.

Another literary device used by Keats is repetition. The phrase "Hither, Hither, Love" is repeated several times throughout the poem, emphasizing the speaker's desperation and longing for Love's return. The repetition of the phrase "all alone" in the third stanza similarly emphasizes the speaker's isolation and despair.

Finally, Keats uses archaic language and syntax to create a sense of timelessness and elevate the poem to the level of myth. The use of "thou" and "thee" for example, evokes the language of Shakespeare and the King James Bible, lending the poem a sense of grandeur and gravitas.


"Hither, Hither, Love" is a powerful poem that captures the universal human experience of love and its attendant pain and despair. The poem's vivid imagery and emotive language make it a classic example of Romantic poetry, while its themes of power dynamics, forgiveness, and human longing give it a timeless quality that resonates with readers of all ages.

At its core, "Hither, Hither, Love" is a poem about the human need for connection and the pain that comes with that need. The speaker's longing for Love's return is a powerful expression of the human desire for love and the hope that it can bring, while his descriptions of mourning and decay capture the intensity of the pain that comes when that love is lost.

Ultimately, the poem suggests that love is a capricious and sometimes cruel force that can both elevate and degrade the human soul. However, it also suggests that the human need for connection and forgiveness is stronger than any pain that love can inflict, and that the willingness to humble oneself before the beloved is the key to finding that connection and redemption.

In conclusion, "Hither, Hither, Love" is a masterful example of Keats' poetic genius and a timeless meditation on the nature of love and despair. Whether read as a love poem, a spiritual meditation, or a metaphor for the human condition, it remains one of the most powerful and evocative works of Romantic poetry ever written.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Hither, Hither, Love! Oh, how sweet those words sound when they roll off the tongue. They are the opening lines of a classic poem written by one of the greatest poets of all time, John Keats. This poem is a beautiful expression of love and desire, and it is a perfect example of Keats' romantic style.

Keats was a master of the romantic style of poetry, which emphasized emotion, imagination, and individualism. His poems were often filled with vivid imagery, and he used language to create a sense of beauty and wonder. Hither, Hither, Love is no exception. In this poem, Keats uses language to create a sense of longing and desire, and he paints a picture of a world filled with beauty and passion.

The poem begins with the speaker calling out to Love, asking it to come closer. The repetition of the word "hither" creates a sense of urgency and desire, as if the speaker cannot wait any longer to be with their beloved. The use of the word "Love" is also significant, as it represents not just a person, but an emotion and a force that can bring people together.

As the poem continues, Keats uses imagery to create a sense of beauty and wonder. He describes Love as a "winged god" who can fly through the air and bring people together. This image is both romantic and fantastical, and it adds to the sense of magic and wonder that permeates the poem.

Keats also uses imagery to describe the world around the speaker. He talks about the "rosy hours" of the day, and the "dewy flowers" that bloom in the fields. These images create a sense of beauty and tranquility, and they add to the overall romantic tone of the poem.

As the poem progresses, the speaker becomes more and more desperate for Love to come closer. They describe Love as a "sweetest bird" that they want to hold and cherish. This image is both romantic and sensual, and it adds to the sense of desire that runs throughout the poem.

The final stanza of the poem is perhaps the most powerful. The speaker declares that they will "die in sweetest ecstasy" if Love does not come to them. This line is both romantic and tragic, as it suggests that the speaker is willing to give up everything for the sake of love.

Overall, Hither, Hither, Love is a beautiful expression of love and desire. Keats' use of language and imagery creates a sense of beauty and wonder, and the poem is a perfect example of his romantic style. It is a timeless classic that continues to inspire and move readers to this day.

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