Saturday, March 20, 2010

John Keats', "Ode on Melancholy," urges the reader to embrace emotional pain so that one can better experience happiness. This idea seems inherent, but often forgotten. How can someone know good feelings if they never experience bad ones. The first stanza challenges the reader,

Nor let the beetle, nor the death-moth be
Your mournful Psyche, nor the downy owl
A partner in your sorrow's mysteries;

The stronger the emotion on one spectrum, it will be equally strong at the other end, for every action has an equal and opposite reaction. In the second stanza, Keats shows that this idea is true of nature as well as man using the metaphor of, "weeping," rain clouds bringing flowers. Closing the poem, Keats turns his attention to a woman, talking about fleeting beauty and compares this with short lived joy. However, without the pains and tribulations of love, it will never last. Without melancholy, there will be no joy. Keats offers an analysis of the inherent opposites in life and how a delicate balancing act achieves nature's plan for us all.

1 comment:

  1. I agree the Keats recognizes the value of pain as something that creates more appreciation for joy but I think his wording might be a little too dark. He seems to go beyond simply recognizing pain as a function of joy and actually begins promoting it as necessary and good in its own right in the second stanza particularly. Such an attitude sets up people to feel sorry for themselves and their situation in the most self-serving ways.