Explication on "Ode on Melancholy"

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  • Topic: Poetry, Sonnet, Ode on a Grecian Urn
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  • Published : May 2, 2012
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ENG 3307-01
March 19, 2012

Explication on “Ode on Melancholy”

In "Ode on Melancholy" John Keats expresses to readers the truth he sees, that joy and pain are inseparable and to experience joy fully we must experience sadness fully. Keats valued intensity of emotion, thought, and experience (“Classification Of Poem”). Keats does not stray away from the suggestion that feeling intensely means that grief or depression may cause sorrow and torture. Throughout the poem Keats expresses his values and emotions by constructing a certain sense of the poem. Readers can agree that “Ode on Melancholy” reflects on John Keats because of formal structure, theme, and thematic elements.

“Ode on Melancholy” addresses the subject of how to cope with sadness. The first stanza tells readers what not to do. In the poem, the speakers states to the sufferer should not forget their sadness, should not commit suicide (nightshade, “the ruby grape of Proserpine”), or become obsessed with objects of death and misery (the beetle, the death-moth, and the owl). Keats claims by doing these things that it will make the anguish of the soul drowsy, and the sufferer should do everything he or she can to remain aware of and alert to the depths of his suffering . In the second stanza, he tells the sufferer what to do instead of resulting to the things in the first stanza. When afflicted with “the melancholy fit,” the sufferer should instead overcome his sorrows with natural beauty, glutting it on the morning rose, “on the rainbow of the salt sand-wave,” (line 16) or in the eyes of their beloved (”Summary on John Keats'-"Ode on Melancholy”).  In the third stanza, he explains these injunctions, saying that joy and pain are inseparable: Beauty must die, joy is fleeting, and the flower of pleasure is forever “turning to poison while the bee-mouth sips” (line 24). Keats says that the shrine of melancholy is inside the “temple of Delight,” (line 25) but that it is only visible if one can overwhelm...
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