Poetry Sunday: Ode on Melancholy by John Keats

I suppose we all feel melancholy, sad, even depressed from time to time. It's part of the human condition. Since poets are human, they experience it, too.

John Keats certainly did and because of his own experience, he apparently felt qualified to give advice to others who might suffer the same feelings. Interestingly, his first bit of advice to them was to not rely on drugs to help them through such times; instead, he said they should turn to the beauty of Nature or the garden to pull them out of the mire of sadness:
Then glut thy sorrow on a morning rose,
Or on the rainbow of the salt sand-wave,
Or on the wealth of globed peonies... 
It's not bad advice even today. 

Ode on Melancholy

by John Keats

No, no, go not to Lethe, neither twist
Wolf's-bane, tight-rooted, for its poisonous wine;
Nor suffer thy pale forehead to be kiss'd
By nightshade, ruby grape of Proserpine;
Make not your rosary of yew-berries,
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.

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,
Or on the rainbow of the salt sand-wave,
Or on the wealth of globed 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.

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
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 shalt taste the sadness of her might,
And be among her cloudy trophies hung.


  1. Once again you found the appropriate poem for all of us sufferers of SAD. On a couple of the rare sunny days last month, I did get out and prune my shrubs. It made me feel glorious.

    1. We've had a long series of overcast, misty, or rainy days and that can weigh a person down after a while. But being outside, even on a foggy day, always makes things at least a little better for me.

  2. Speaking of the Nature's beauty to soothe the soul yet he seems to have been well versed in herbal poisons. :-)


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