Ode to John Keats
At an early age, John Keats experienced a tough life that was surrounded by death. Not only did he lose his mother, father, and half of his siblings when he was young, but he was exposed to death and illness when he was a teenager working as an apprentice surgeon. He soon became a Romantic poet with an obsession with death, which can be seen in his poems throughout his life, particularly in his famous “Great Odes”. Between the spring and autumn of 1819, Keats wrote six odes. Although these odes did not receive much recognition in Keats’s lifetime, they would later become some of his most priceless pieces of art. Even though the structure, symbols, forms and meters all vary throughout these poems, the reader is able to sense a common theme of death and mortality in each of them. Nobody knows, chronologically, the exact order that the “Great Odes” were written in. However, when examining the odes as a whole, “Ode to Indolence” is often considered the first of the sequence. “Ode to Indolence” follows a strict structure, like the majority of Keats’s odes. It is made up of ten line stanzas, with a rhyme scheme that is composed of a Shakespearian quartet, ABAB, and a Miltonic sestet, CDECDE. In this poem, the speaker is visited by three images, Love, Ambition, and Poetry. These figures try to persuade the speaker, but the speaker rejects these parts of his life as he is content with his indolence, or laziness. Thoughts of death and mortality can be seen in this poem. By rejecting love, ambition and poetry, three things that make life worth living, the speaker can more easily accept death when it comes. In Keats’s “Ode to Psyche”, the speaker stumbles upon Psyche and her lover in the woods. The speaker then praises her for her beauty. This sonnet has a very loose form, with words written more freely. Keats, however, does stick to some standards in his poem. In the second stanza, for example, he uses a strict rhyme scheme of ABAB CDCD EFEF. The...
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