Chapter

“Ode on Melancholy” and ”What the Thrush Said”

Jennifer Radden

in The Nature of Melancholy

Published in print April 2002 | ISBN: 9780195151657
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199849253 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195151657.003.0020
“Ode on Melancholy” and ”What the Thrush Said”

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This chapter discusses two poems by John Keats — “Ode of Melancholy” and “What the Thrush Said.” Keats knew much suffering and died while still a young man. Consumptive and weak, he experienced many phases of despondency and moodiness. By the time he received recognition for his work, he was seriously ill with tuberculosis. The ode on melancholy starts with the world of darkness and pain, so vividly described that we are reminded that Keats wrote from personal experience. His evocation of the dual aspects of melancholy, the stress on the paradox uniting sensual pleasure, energy, and vitality, on the one hand, and despair, suffering, and passivity, on the other, elevates his writing on melancholy to a place beside that of Elizabethan authors.

Keywords: John Keats; English poets; melancholy; Ode of Melancholy

Chapter.  1090 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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