Keats' Poems and Letters

“Ode on Melancholy”: Sorrow Dwells in the Temple of Delight

John Keats’ “Ode on Melancholy” is a complex poetic investigation into the equally complex emotions of pain and sadness. Melancholy is defined as a gloomy state of mind, a dejection, depression, or despondency. Keats urges the reader to view melancholy in a much more positive light. He views melancholy as a necessary part of the human experience. It is an emotion deeply embedded in our lives and to ignore it would mean an attempt to deaden our senses. This is an ode dedicated to expelling the negative misunderstandings of an emotion that is significantly essential to the human experience. Similar to his other “Great Odes”, Keats utilizes concrete imagery to add a sense of authenticity to his argument. He explores this emotion of sorrow in the realm of true life by theorizing on the state of melancholy and arguing for its necessity. His passionate argument for melancholy relies on a view of the emotion as being deeply embedded in the circle of life. Throughout his very dense and passionate expression, Keats explores the qualities of melancholy and its necessity to natural reality.

The passion of Keats’ ode is demonstrated outright in the first line: “No, no, go not”. This immediately sets the tone and argument of the poem as...

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