“Ode on Melancholy”
John Keats

Create hyperlinks within "Ode on Melancholy" to help explain the more difficult words and allusions. Your group must add at least 5 hyperlinks.

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 mistresssome 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 shall taste the sadness of her might,
And be among her cloudy trophies hung.

Copyright 1820

How is this poem an example of Romanticism? (Answer is well developed paragraphs with specific examples.)

The primary reason for this ode to be classified in the category of romanticism is its mention of nature, beauty and mortality. The poet's psychological evocation of nature as a symbol of life and the emotional side of mortal life appear throughout the ode.

Nature is considered as something very dangerous, yet also very captivating due to its eternal beauty. John Keats introduces the reader a comparison of beauty, namely a collation of the beauty of nature to the beauty of mankind. The romantic poet concludes that the beauty of a human mortal, where as the natures is immortal, as can be interpreted from the phrases from the third stanza “She dwells with Beauty – Beauty that must die” The first stanza of the ode consists of several inclusions of natural elements that create a positive effect on the reader that doesn’t fit to the general concept of melancholy. However, as the poem progresses the intense appreciation of life is unwelcome. This becomes a central paradox as Keats indicates that life is good but transient. All of the superior elements in life such as beauty, joy and sensual pleasure are mixed with pain and mortality. All of these indicate uniqueness in personal emotion and interpretation of nature as an organic system for humans, which eventually add up to the key elements of Romanticism.

Imagination is a part of Romanticism, and strong figurative allusions and comparisons exist throughout the ode. Imagination is used to decode certain aspects of life. An example of imagination would be the personification of melancholy. As can be observed from the phrases, “Ay, in the very temple Delight”, “Veil’d Melancholy has her Sovran shrine” Melancholy is depicted as some sort of a goddess, immortal, living without beauty and pleasure. Further signs of imagination are revealed through the phrases, “His soul shall taste the sadness of her might” with his “strenuous tongue” Melancholy seems to have inhuman powers and is tasting sadness.

Melancholy is further personified through out the ode, such as in the second stanza when Keats is saying what if melancholy arrives to us in the form if a "weeping cloud" from heaven. As observed, Melancholy is given the symbol of a being approaching us, the mortal humans, from heaven. The heavenly symbolization of melancholy strengthens its depiction as some sort of a goddess, maybe an angel. Yet, besides the godlike illustration of melancholy, it is again addressed as a powerful source of pure sadness. In the subsequent lines, Keats explains the reader that if you happen to fall in the trap of melancholy, use nature, namely "morning rose", "rainbow" and "peonies", to find your way out. This is a clear exemplification of nature's crucial purpose in a romantic's perspective, it is the eternal key to finding solutions for mortal life. The employ of nature as an opposition against the godlike melancholy, clearly conveys the beauty and the significant purpose of our surroundings and that we should enjoy what will eventually end.

I'm not too sure if this relevant, but Ode on Melancholy reminds me of Raymond Carver's poem "This Morning", in which the protagonist was in search of happiness through his observation and attachment to his surroundings. It involved metaphors relating to nature, such as the one I can recall, "The sun floated on the clear blue sky" Just a quick comparison.


- Emir Tigrel

How is this poem an example of an ode and lyric poem? (Answer in a bulleted list.)
  • Relatively long
  • lyrical
  • Complex Stanza forms
  • glorifies the subject
  • 1 speaker
  • It has Ode in its title



What have you learned about Keats that helps you understand this poem in a new way? (Be sure to use the school's databases and cite your information. Answers need to be in well-developed paragraphs.)

After having read "Ode on Melancholy" one can clearly say that John Keats was writer of the "romantic period". not only is "Ode on Melancholy" an Ode ,which was common in the period, but it also glorifies a single subject matter being Melancholy. this however seems to be an odd subject to glorify as it is usually linked to being depressed and down. in order to really understand Keat's choice on the subject one has to know about his life.
Through out his short life, Keats had many encounters with death, the first person to leave Keats was his father who fell of a horse, after returning from a visit to the 9 year old John and his younger brother. in the following year his grandfather died, his grandfather was followed by his grandmother who took care of him and his siblings after the death of the father and when his Mother got remarried. as if this was not enough his Mother, Uncle, and younger Brother all died from tuberculosis, which got the best of him at the age of 25. just from seeing how many people who were so close to him passed away, it wouldn't be unusual for Keats to enter a depression, but instead the appearance of death was a motivation for Keats to work harder. it is noted that when keats returned to school in 1809, after the death of his Father, Grandfather and uncle, he had arrived with a brand new motivation, which gave him many awards. as you can see Keats actually believed in what he wrote, in a way his "Melancholy' is what drove him onwards which is exactly what he tells the reader to do.

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What are some of the purposes of this poem? Why did Keats write it in the first place? (Answers should be in bulleted lists, allowing others to "run" with their own ideas.)

  • Keats was trying to glorify Melancholy which is suppose to be a depressing and an undesirable feeling.
  • He wrote it to explore the differences between happiness and happiness that can be found among misery.
  • To compare both happiness and sadness to the beauty of a woman, and the joy the beauty brings.



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