Daily Archives: May 2, 2009

Melancholy

 

John Keats. 1795–1821
  
628. 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 kist  
  By nightshade, ruby grape of Proserpine;  
Make not your rosary of yew-berries,          5
  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.   10
 
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,   15
  Or on the rainbow of the salt sand-wave,  
    Or on the wealth of globèd peonies;  
Or if thy mistress some rich anger shows,  
  Emprison her soft hand, and let her rave,  
    And feed deep, deep upon her peerless eyes.   20
 
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   25
  Veil’d 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.   30