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‘The Eve of St Agnes’: A Poem by John Keats

‘The Eve of St. Agnes’ is a narrative poem by John Keats (1795-1821) told using the Spenserian stanza, the nine-line verse form Edmund Spenser developed for his vast sixteenth-century epic, The Faerie Queene. On a cold night in a medieval castle, a young lover breaks into his sweetheart’s chamber, hides in her closet, and then persuades her semi-conscious self to run away with him.

The Eve of St. Agnes

St. Agnes’ Eve—Ah, bitter chill it was!
       The owl, for all his feathers, was a-cold;
       The hare limp’d trembling through the frozen grass,
       And silent was the flock in woolly fold:

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‘To Solitude’: A Poem by John Keats

John Keats (1795-1821) begins this early sonnet, written when he was just 19 years old, by talking, almost paradoxically, of dwelling with solitude. Keats says that if he must be alone, he would rather be on his own in pleasant surroundings rather than in a city populated by ‘murky buildings’. Spoken like a true Romantic!

To Solitude

O solitude! if I must with thee 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 Read the rest of this entry

‘Ode to Psyche’: A Poem by John Keats

The earliest of John Keats’s great 1819 odes, ‘Ode to Psyche’ is about the Greek embodiment of the soul and mind, Psyche. Keats declares that he will be Psyche’s ‘priest’ and build a temple to her in his mind. Although this is probably the least-admired of Keats’s classic odes, it’s a fine paean to poetic creativity and the power of the imagination and so ‘Ode to Psyche’ deserves to be shared here in our Post a Poem a Day feature.

Ode to Psyche

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? Read the rest of this entry