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Ode to Psyche

John Keats
by

Mary Shea

on 13 November 2012

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Transcript of Ode to Psyche

Ode to Psyche John Keats O Goddess! hear these tuneless numbers, wrung
         By sweet enforcement and remembrance dear,
And pardon that thy secrets should be sung
         Even into thine own soft-conched ear:
Surely I dreamt to-day, or did I see
         The winged Psyche with awaken'd eyes?
I wander'd in a forest thoughtlessly,
         And, on the sudden, fainting with surprise,
Saw two fair creatures, couched side by side
         In deepest grass, beneath the whisp'ring roof
         Of leaves and trembled blossoms, where there ran
                A brooklet, scarce espied:


Mid hush'd, cool-rooted flowers, fragrant-eyed,
         Blue, silver-white, and budded Tyrian,
They lay calm-breathing, on the bedded grass;
         Their arms embraced, and their pinions too;
         Their lips touch'd not, but had not bade adieu,
As if disjoined by soft-handed slumber,
And ready still past kisses to outnumber
         At tender eye-dawn of aurorean love:
                The winged boy I knew;
But who wast thou, O happy, happy dove?
                His Psyche true!

O latest born and loveliest vision far
         Of all Olympus' faded hierarchy!
Fairer than Phoebe's sapphire-region'd star,
         Or Vesper, amorous glow-worm of the sky;
Fairer than these, though temple thou hast none,
                Nor altar heap'd with flowers;
Nor virgin-choir to make delicious moan
                Upon the midnight hours;
No voice, no lute, no pipe, no incense sweet
         From chain-swung censer teeming;
No shrine, no grove, no oracle, no heat
         Of pale-mouth'd prophet dreaming.

O brightest! though too late for antique vows,
         Too, too late for the fond believing lyre,
When holy were the haunted forest boughs,
         Holy the air, the water, and the fire;
Yet even in these days so far retir'd
         From happy pieties, thy lucent fans,
         Fluttering among the faint Olympians,
I see, and sing, by my own eyes inspir'd.
So let me be thy choir, and make a moan
                Upon the midnight hours;
Thy voice, thy lute, thy pipe, thy incense sweet
         From swinged censer teeming;
Thy shrine, thy grove, thy oracle, thy heat
         Of pale-mouth'd prophet dreaming.

Yes, I will be thy priest, and build a fane
         In some untrodden region of my mind,
Where branched thoughts, new grown with pleasant pain,
         Instead of pines shall murmur in the wind:
Far, far around shall those dark-cluster'd trees
         Fledge the wild-ridged mountains steep by steep;
And there by zephyrs, streams, and birds, and bees,
         The moss-lain Dryads shall be lull'd to sleep;
And in the midst of this wide quietness
A rosy sanctuary will I dress
   With the wreath'd trellis of a working brain,
         With buds, and bells, and stars without a name,
With all the gardener Fancy e'er could feign,
         Who breeding flowers, will never breed the same:
And there shall be for thee all soft delight
         That shadowy thought can win,
A bright torch, and a casement ope at night,
         To let the warm Love in! Structure Variation in line number between stanzas: stanza 1: 12 lines
stanza 2: 11 lines
stanza 3: 12 lines
stanza 4: 14 lines
stanza 5: 18 lines Rhyme scheme exists but constantly changes:
stanza 1: ababcdcdefge
stanza 2: abcddeefgfg
stanza 3: ababcdcdefef
stanza 4: ababcddcefghgh
stanza 5: ababcdcdeefgfghihi Irregularities in Structure: WHY? Poem has free form
Focus is more on narration than on poetic structure
Feels like speaker is being moved by passions as he is speaking
Emphasizes imaginative thinking Poem Summary: Stanza 1: Speaker starts out by addressing Psyche and explaining his surprise at seeing two lovers laying together in the woods

Stanza 2: The two lovers lay together with their faces posed as if about to kiss without actually making contact (similar to the lovers in Ode on a Grecian Urn?). Speaker recognizes the lovers as Eros and Psyche.

Stanza 3: Speaker praises Psyche, declaring that because she became a goddess later than all the rest, she is not adequately worshiped

Stanza 4: Speaker declares that even though Psyche missed out on previous praise, the speaker is still inspired by her and will worship her

Stanza 5: Speaker describes his own mind and details the ways in which he will use his imagination to turn this space into a place of worship for Psyche Punctuation Exclamations: “O Goddess!” (1)
“His Psyche true!” (23)
“O latest born and loveliest vision far
Of all Olympus' faded hierarchy!” (24-25).
“O brightest!” (36) Why? Always have to do with Psyche
Displays enthusiasm and passion about Psyche Questions “Surely I dreamt to-day, or did I see
The winged Psyche with awaken'd eyes?” (5-6)

“But who was thou, O happy, happy dove?” (22) Why? Conveys sense of wonder about Psyche
Curiosity fuels rest of poem Repetition Lines 30-35:
Nor virgin-choir to make delicious moan
Upon the midnight hours;
No voice, no lute, no pipe, no incense sweet
From chain-swung censer teeming;
No shrine, no grove, no oracle, no heat
Of pale-mouth'd prophet dreaming. Lines 44-49:
So let me be thy choir, and make a moan
Upon the midnight hours;
Thy voice, thy lute, thy pipe, thy incense sweet
From swinged censer teeming;
Thy shrine, thy grove, thy oracle, thy heat
Of pale-mouth'd prophet dreaming. WHY? Repetition shows contrast between the neglect Psyche apparently experiences and how much speaker loves and is willing to worship her. Imagery Nature Imagery “In deepest grass, beneath the whisp'ring roof
Of leaves and trembled blossoms” (10-11)


“Mid hush'd, cool-rooted flowers, fragrant-eyed,
Blue, silver-white, and budded Tyrian” (13-14) Why? What purpose does this nature imagery serve? Nature is described in such a way that it becomes silent and mysterious
These particular images are in stanzas in which Psyche is present
Nature's silence comes from being in awe of Psyche Diction When speaking about Psyche: sweet (2)
soft-conched (4)
fair creatures (9)
calm-breathing (15)
embraced (16)
happy (22)
loveliest (24)
fairer (26)
brightest (36) Why? Positive words
Conveys love and peacefulness
Further showcases admiration and devotion to Psyche When speaking about the mind: untrodden (51)
pleasant pain (52)
wide quietness (58)
rosy sanctuary (59)
soft delight (64) Why? The mind is an endless, untouched space
Anything that can be conjured in the mind can be beautiful and provide appropriate adoration Note: Psyche was a beautiful mortal that Eros, the god of love, fell in love with. Her mortality was an issue and drama ensued. Zeus ultimately resolved the situation by granting her immortality so that the two could be together (after much toil on the part of Psyche). Conclusion (restarting lettering after each stanza) This poem exalts both the power of love and of imagination.
Exclamatory punctuation and positive diction raise Psyche to a higher level than the speaker and thus makes her unquestionably worthy of love and adoration. Reverent nature imagery and repetition further ensure that the reader realizes how special the object of the speaker's devotion is. The free structure of the poem as well as interrogative punctuation and positive diction extol the ability of the mind and the value of what people can evoke with their imaginations. Ultimately, this poem shows how love can elevate both partners: the recipient of love receives praise and has the satisfaction of being adored; the lover's mind is transformed by imagination into a place of constant thought and growth.
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