Keats' Poems and Letters

Forcing a Snake to Keep its Skin: Lamia College

John Keats’ canonical Romantic poem “Lamia” emphasizes natural malevolence despite intention. Within “Lamia,” the reader is told of the titular character Lamia’s desire to have Lycius love her. Although her way to human form is not necessarily achieved through the noblest of intentions, she still does it out of love so that she can be with Lycius.

In light of these clear intentions, the audience can sympathize with Lamia’s well-meant stratagem for attaining her Lycius, but we are also wary from the get-go. Furthermore, Lamia calls to Lycius asking him for pity as he passed on the path where she had waited for him because she had stalked him prior. The speaker of the poem then claims that Lycius did look back at Lamia as “Orpheus-like at an Eurydice,” (Keats, 248). Interestingly the corresponding genders to this allusion are correct, but within the context of the poem themselves, the Eurydice becomes the charming muse whereas the Orpheus is felled by a serpent, which is reverse to the legend. The audience becomes concerned by the allusions to failed romance, as well as Lamia’s questionable actions, but the positive intentions of both characters hold off an immediate condemnation of their relationship. In this Keats complicates...

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