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The Nature of MelancholyFrom Aristotle to Kristeva$
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Jennifer Radden

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780195151657

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195151657.001.0001

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“Ode on Melancholy” and ”What the Thrush Said”

“Ode on Melancholy” and ”What the Thrush Said”


(p.219) 19 “Ode on Melancholy” and ”What the Thrush Said”
The Nature of Melancholy

Jennifer Radden

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses two poems by John Keats — “Ode of Melancholy” and “What the Thrush Said.” Keats knew much suffering and died while still a young man. Consumptive and weak, he experienced many phases of despondency and moodiness. By the time he received recognition for his work, he was seriously ill with tuberculosis. The ode on melancholy starts with the world of darkness and pain, so vividly described that we are reminded that Keats wrote from personal experience. His evocation of the dual aspects of melancholy, the stress on the paradox uniting sensual pleasure, energy, and vitality, on the one hand, and despair, suffering, and passivity, on the other, elevates his writing on melancholy to a place beside that of Elizabethan authors.

Keywords:   John Keats, English poets, melancholy, Ode of Melancholy

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