Ode on Melancholy

1 January 2017

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 oneself with joy until it reveals its center of sadness (“Classification Of Poem”). “Ode on Melancholy” is the shortest of Keats’s odes and was written in a very regular form. Each stanza is ten lines long and metered in a relatively precise iambic pentameter.

The first two stanzas, offering advice to the sufferer, follow the same rhyme scheme, ; the third, which explains the advice to the sufferer, varies the ending slightly, following a scheme of (“Ode on Melancholy: Melancholy’s Pleasure”). Most readers can agree that this poem’s structure is progressive. Keats begins the poem with many negative particles. In the first verse of the first stanza he says: “No, no, go not to Lethe, neither twist” (line 1) because he is showing his rejection to those who look for something to calm his or her pain.

Also the lines three and six begin with the word nor and he uses this word in order to reinforce his ideas to the readers. Keats is warning the sufferer about what he or she should not do to avoid the pain and that we do not have to forget the sadness (“Ode on Melancholy: Melancholy’s Pleasure”). In the second stanza Keats is saying what to do if the melancholy arrives. If the melancholy overpowers you, then to fight against the sadness you have to console yourself with the Beauty: the beauty of the rainbow, the beauty of the flowers (“peonies and morning roses”) and the beauty of your beloved’s eyes.

It is ironic the way he uses negative symbols like weeping cloud and positive symbols like morning rose, rainbow and peonies, because he expresses to readers that these beautiful things need the help of the negative things (“Ode on Melancholy: Melancholy’s Pleasure). Keats starts the third stanza by saying: She dwells with Beauty – Beauty that must die. Readers can agree that this line in the poem is very important because Keats was very concerned with beauty, saying beauty is temporary (“Ode on Melancholy: Melancholy’s Pleasure”). Keats uses “she” to refer to melancholy because the melancholy is beautiful in his eyes.

In this stanza readers can see the irony. In the poem it states “Ay, in the very temple of Delight/ Veil’d Melancholy has her sovran shrine” (lines 25-26). The melancholy has his or her shrine in the temple of delight, but it is veil’d because when we are happy and when we are not melancholic, we can’t see it and we think we will be happy forever. The main idea that readers can obtain from “Ode on Melancholy” is that we, as human beings, cannot escape from the pain, but when we are faced with melancholy we fight through it. “Ode on Melancholy” is different than any other of Keats’s works because of its style and theme.

Readers can agree that the theme of “Ode on Melancholy” is we cannot escape from pain and when we are faced with melancholy we must fight through it. Keats wrote most of his works during the Romanticism period in which authors wrote about their feelings and emotions. By Keats being an author during that period, the theme of “Ode on Melancholy” expresses his writings (“Ode on Melancholy”). Throughout the poem Keats uses his style of writing to portray the theme to readers. He uses thematic elements such as personification and similes to express the theme.

Personification is shown in the poem when Keats states “Veil’d Melancholy has her sovran shrine” (line 26). Keats uses this line in the poem to compare melancholy to a person, stating that the sufferer cannot let melancholy have power over them. Similes are shown in the poem when Keats states “But when the melancholy fit shall fall/ Sudden from heaven like a weeping cloud” (lines 11-12). He compares melancholy to a weeping cloud, stating that melancholy is so strong that it can fall upon the sufferer like a weeping cloud (“Ode on Melancholy”).

By Keats using these thematic elements the theme is expressed to readers. John Keats uses his values and emotions to portray to readers the way to handles things. “Ode on Melancholy” is one of his most honest works to date and continues to stand out in literature today. By him using a certain structure and theme, this work stands out from any of his other works. Readers can agree that Keats wants the audience to know that it does get better and that when you are faced with melancholy that you must see it through.

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Ode on Melancholy. (2017, Jan 09). Retrieved July 5, 2020, from https://newyorkessays.com/essay-ode-on-melancholy/
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