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O Solitude!

Poem analysis of "O Solitude" -by John Keats
by

Andrea Van Grinsven

on 13 November 2012

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Transcript of O Solitude!

Poem by John Keats
Analysis by Andrea Van Grinsven O Solitude! O Solitude! if I must with the dwell,
Let it not be among the jumbled heap
Of murky buildings; climb with me the steep, -
Nature's observatory- whence the dell,
Its flowery slopes, its river's crystal swell,
May seem a span; let me thy vigils keep
'Mongst boughs pavillion'd, where the deer's swift leap
Startles the wild bee from the fox-glove bell.
But though I'll gladly trace these scenes with thee,
Yet yet the sweet converse of an innocent mind,
Whose words are images of thoughts refin'd,
Is my soul's pleasure; and it sure must be
Almost the highest bliss of human-kind,
When to thy haunts two kindred spirits flee. structure Petrarchan/Italian sonnet rhyme scheme:
abbaabba cddcdc made up of ocatave & sestet Octave: lines 1-8 The octave introduces/expresses Keats' preference to face solitude in the simplicity of nature rather than in the chaos of a city. volta: line 9 Beginning the sestet, the volta presents the change in tone (and rhyme scheme) in the poem. Keats' focus shifts from a plan for reluctantly tolerating solitude in nature to his solution for freeing himself of solitude altogether. sestet: lines 9-14 In the sestet, Keats applies a solution to the problem of solitude. He addresses solitude, explaining that he does not want to endure it. It is his preference, and the preference of human-kind as a whole, to find solace in another person instead. O Solitude! if I must with the dwell,
Let it not be among the jumbled heap
Of murky buildings; climb with me the steep, -
Nature's observatory- whence the dell,
Its flowery slopes, its river's crystal swell,
May seem a span; let me thy vigils keep
'Mongst boughs pavillion'd, where the deer's swift leap
Startles the wild bee from the fox-glove bell.
But though I'll gladly trace these scenes with thee,
Yet yet the sweet converse of an innocent mind,
Whose words are images of thoughts refin'd,
Is my soul's pleasure; and it sure must be
Almost the highest bliss of human-kind,
When to thy haunts two kindred spirits flee. Punctuation & Capitalization Keats capitalizes the word solitude, as if it is a person. Here Keats employs the literary device of apostrophe to address nonhuman solitude as if it is a person with whom he can have a conversation. This is also ironic. By definition, solitude is the state of being alone, so it is unexpected that Keats refers to it as a companion. Keats' first choice of punctuation is an exclamation mark after he addresses solitude. This implies that Keats is familiar enough with solitude to convey such an excited tone. It also suggests that he has strong feelings about the relationship he is about to discuss. The poem is composed of only two entire sentences. Commas, dashes, and semi-colons are utilized to separate clauses, but there are only two periods in the entire poem: one at the end of the octave and one at the end of the sestet. He ends his thoughts about nature with a period and does the same for his thoughts about escaping solitude. The lack of definitive punctuation allows Keats to explore his subject thoroughly before ending his thought with a conclusive idea. analysis diction imagery presents contrast "jumbled heap" (2)
"murky buildings" (3) nature v. artiface negative towards the city positive towards nature "flowery slopes" (5)
"crystal swell" (5) Keats' diction explores an obvious contrast between the chaos of an urban setting and the serenity of nature. If he must endure emotions of solitude, it is evident he would rather do so in nature, away from other negative emotions relationships with solitude with human companion "if i must with thee dwell" (1)
"But though I'll gladly trace these scenes with thee" (9) shows lack of excitement for "relationship" with solitude
Keats has reservations about the emotion "sweet converse of an innocent mind" (10)
"my soul's pleasure" (12)
"highest bliss of human-kind" (13) Keats favors companionship over solitude because it rids the mind of despair. This does not necessarily have to be a romantic relationship; any sort of friendship or familial bond yields the same sort of fulfillment. "when to thy haunts two kindred spirits flee" (14) alternative meaning
haunt= place In companionship, the concept of solitude is altered. It becomes a sort of retreat as opposed to a plaguing emotion. Keats conveys this through his diction by depicting solitude as a sort of destination (they can flee "TO thy haunts"). Keats essentially changes his definition of solitude through his word choice. nature city "jumbled heap" (2)
"murky buildings" (3) "flowery slopes" (5)
"crystal swell" (5) The imagery Keats uses to describe urban life versus life in nature reflects how he feels each affects his mindset. The city is "jumbled" (2) and "murky" (3). Both of these adjectives describing the city buildings have negative connotations. Since he is addressing solitude in the poem, through the imagery here he is basically explaining that he wants to minimize the turbulence of emotions he experiences outside of solitude. This can be achieved by leaving behind the setting that contributes to such feelings, the city.
In response, he seeks clarity of mind in nature where he finds "flowery slopes" (5) and the "river's crystal swell" (5). "sweet converse" (10)
"innocent mind" (10)
"highest bliss" (10)
"kindred spirits" (14) Readers can picture the happiness of the speaker now that he has a real companion instead of solitude. Finally, he has found the bliss and innocence of mind he sought in nature. However, now he has both of these emotions and someone similar to him to share them with.
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