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Notes On Ode to Indolence by John Keats

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Introduction

Ode on Indolence Basic Outline A young man spends a drowsy summer morning lazing about, until he is startled by a vision of Love, Ambition and Poesy. He feels stirrings of desire to follow the figures, but decides in the end that the temptations of his own indolent morning outweigh the temptations of Love, Ambition and Poesy. Stanza 1 Keats speaker describes a vision he had one morning of 3 strange figures wearing 'white robes' and 'placid sandals'. They pass in profile and the speaker describes their passing by comparing them to figures carved on the side of a marble urn. When the last figured passed by, the first figure reappeared, just as would happen if you turned a vase. 'White' and 'placid' create a sense of purity and innocence. The urn is a recurring image which is also apparent in the 'Ode to a Grecian Urn'. Stanza 2 The speaker addresses the figures directly, asking how he didn't recognize them and how they sneaked up on him. He suspects them of trying to 'steal away and leave without task' his 'idle days' and then describes how his morning went before they arrived - lazily enjoying the summer day in sublime numbness. ...read more.

Middle

Stanza 6 He bids adieu and asserts again that Love, Ambition and Poesy aren't enough to raise his head from its pillow in the grass. He tells them he has had ample supply of visions and orders them to vanish and never return. Form * Ten - line stanzas * Iambic pentameter (the way stresses fall) * Two parts 1. opening 4 line sequence, alternating rhyming lines (ABAB) 2. 6 line sequence, with a variable rhyming scheme What does the rhyme scheme give to the poem? It parallels the poet's emotions and thoughts, whilst also giving rhythm, pace, music and bringing out imagery and symbols. Themes 'Indolence' raises the glimmerings of themes raised more fully in the other 5 poems, and seems to portray the speaker's first struggles with the problems and ideas of the other odes. The principal theme holds that the pleasant numbness of the speaker's indolence is a preferable state to the more exciting states of Love, Ambition and Poesy. In this ode, the speaker's indolence seems in many ways an attempt to blur forgetfully the lines of the world, so that the 'short fever-fit' of life no longer seems so agonizing. The speaker rejects love and ambition simply because they require him to experience his life too intensely and hold the inevitable promise of ending. ...read more.

Conclusion

One of the great themes of Keats's odes is that of the anguish of mortality - the pain and frustration caused by the changes and endings in inevitable human life, which are contrasted throughout the poems with the permanence of art. * He denounces poetry, which he also does in 'Ode to a Nightingale'. * Is written in a ten line stanza, as are all other odes except 'To Autumn' and 'To Psyche'. * It has two parts to it, opening 4 lines and then a 6 line sequence with a variable rhyming scheme, as do all other odes except from 'To Psyche'. * It isn't as intense as the other odes. * In each ode Keats is found confronting some sort of divine figure, usually a goddess; in 'Indolence' he confronts three. * Many ideas and images anticipate more developed ideas and images in later odes. o The lushly described summer landscape, with its 'stirring shades/ and baffled beams' anticipates he imaginary landscape the speaker creates in 'Ode to Psyche' o The experience of numbness anticipates the aesthetic numbness of 'Ode to a Nightingale' and the anguished numbness of 'Ode on Melancholy' o The birdsong of the 'throstle's lay' anticipates the nightingale and the swallows of 'To Autumn' o The Grecian dress of the figures and their urn-like procession anticipate the 'Ode on a Grecian Urn' ...read more.

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