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Ode on Melancholy by John Keats


"Ode on Melancholy" is a poetic ode by Keats and is considered one of his least-discussed. Nonetheless, it is lyrical and affecting. The poem displays how the poet links pain with pleasure (one cannot exist without the other). This writing was heavily influenced by Robert Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy.

"Ode on Melancholy" is a three stanza poem written with ten lines each for a total of 32 lines. Each stanza is rhymed in ABABCDECDE. Many lines seem to be in iambic pentameter, but not all of them follow this scheme. Many lines are odd, such as the second line of the writing.


Ode on Melancholy

No, no, go not to Lethe, neither twist
Wolf's-bane, tight-rooted, for its poisonous wine;
Nor suffer thy pale forehead to be kissed
By nightshade, ruby grape of Proserpine;
Make not your rosary of yew-berries,
Nor let the beetle nor the death-moth be
Your mournful Psyche, nor the downy owl
A partner in your sorrow's mysteries;
For shade to shade will come too drowsily,
And drown the wakeful anguish of the soul.

But when the melancholy fit shall fall
Sudden from heaven like a weeping cloud,
That fosters the droop-headed flowers all,
And hides the green hill in an April shroud;
Then glut thy sorrow on a morning rose,
Or on the rainbow of the salt sand-wave,
Or on the wealth of globed peonies;
Or if thy mistress some rich anger shows,
Imprison her soft hand, and let her rave,
And feed deep, deep upon her peerless eyes.

She dwells with Beauty -Beauty that must die;
And Joy, whose hand is ever at his lips
Bidding adieu; and aching Pleasure nigh,
Turning to poison while the bee-mouth sips:
Ay, in the very temple of Delight
Veiled Melancholy has her sovran shrine,
Though seen of none save him whose strenuous tongue
Can burst Joy's grape against his palate fine:
His soul shall taste the sadness of her might,
And be among her cloudy trophies hung.

Written in 1819. Published in 1820.

Next: Ode to a Nightingale
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Literary Movement
Romanticism, 18th Century

Ode, Pain

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