In the beginning of the poem, the speaker warns, “No, no go not to Lethe” which is the forgetful water of Hades (Keats 932). The direction the speaker is giving a person is very clear and direct as if they are headed down a wrong path or set of actions and must change or correct an oversight. This dark imagery of death continues along with this warning away from symbols of death from poisonous “nightshade” and a “rosary of yew berries” (Keats 932). There is a religious connotation with the symbol of the berries in a rosary form as if they are an object representing a deep faith and hope for a new life similarly to Christian Catholicism. However, the speaker then uses a beetle and the death-moth as the symbols of resurrection and death. “Nor let the beetle, nor the death-moth be/ Your mournful Psyche” (Keats 932). This beetle is a powerful Egyptian symbol as that was placed in and around tombs as a symbol of resurrection. Additionally, the moth was a symbol of the soul or psyche and to not let the death-moth be a “mournful Psyche” the speaker is again turning this dark imagery into a possibility of a new hope or life (Keats 932). Moreover, this balance of symbolism further conveys the idea that sorrow needs joy to survive in order to transform into a better soul.
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...ats 933). She treats this soul, possibly the one the speaker is referencing, as a treasure in her temple which reflects how sorrow venerates life as a beautiful jewel that gives brief joy.
Keats has crafted his poem Ode to Melancholy to use dark imagery of death, symbols of life and metaphorical opposites to create a deeper understanding of melancholy. In order to experience true sorrow one must feel true joy to see the beauty of melancholy. However, Keats’s poem is not all dark imagery, for interwoven into this poem is an emerging possibility of resurrection and the chance at a new life. The speaker in this poem starts by strongly advising against the actions and as the poem continues urges a person to take different actions. In this poem, the speaker tells of how to embrace life by needing the experience of melancholy to appreciate the true joy and beauty of life.
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