Commentary on "On Sitting Down to Read King Lear Once Again" by John Keats

1984 Words Jan 6th, 2003 8 Pages
POEM : On Sitting Down to Read King Lear Once Again

O golden-tongued Romance with serene lute!

Fair plumed Syren! Queen of far away!

Leave melodizing on this wintry day,

Shut up thine olden pages, and be mute:

Adieu! for once again the fierce dispute,

Betwixt damnation and impassion'd clay

Must I burn through; once more humbly assay

The bitter-sweet of this Shakespearian fruit.

Chief Poet! and ye clouds of Albion,

Begetters of our deep eternal theme,

When through the old oak forest I am gone,

Let me not wander in a barren dream,

But when I am consumed in the fire,

Give me new Phoenix wings to fly at my desire.


The poem under study was written in 1818 after the completion of John Keats's 4,000-line poem
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This indicates that the poet is willing to wander from the sweet thoughts these readings generate, the "Golden-tongued Romance" being a synecdote for chivalric romances in general.

Moreover, the personification process is extended on line 4 since "Golden-tongued Romance" is addressed as though it was endowed with life and speech. Indeed, "thine (...) Pages" are the book's. Moreover, the siren is used as a metonymy for the narrative insofar as the poet combines the two on line 4, the predicates "Shut up" and "be mute" referring to the nymph.

Finally, the adjective "olden" alludes to this literature's ancient existence.

In short, this first quatrain deals with the poet's liking for medieval romances insisting on their enchanting power. Nevertheless, the latter wishes to dismiss them from his mind. And prosopopeia is aimed at showing that he is deeply affected by his rereading of King Lear. The second stanza is going to contrast images of beauty with what Shakespeare's tragedy displays.

Next, the second quatrain begins with the poet bidding farewell to pleasant meditations.

But, we should first and foremost put this sonnet back in its context. We can easily presume that it is autobiographic, thus that Keats reveals us his own worries. In 1818, he is aware that he has short time left to live due to the fatal illness

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