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In 1959 Douglas Bush described 'The Eve of St Agnes' as "no more than a romantic tapestry of colour". Do you agree

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In 1959 Douglas Bush described 'The Eve of St Agnes' as "no more than a romantic tapestry of colour". Do you agree? St. Agnes, the patron saint of virgins, die a martyr in fourth century Rome. She was condemned to be executed after being raped all night in a brothel; however a miraculous storm saved her from rape - the 21 January, St. Agnes Day. Keats told in his poem of the superstition that a girl could see her future husband in a dream if she performed certain rituals on the eve of St. Agnes; if she went to bed without looking behind her and lay on her back with her hands under her head, he would appear in her dream, kiss her, and then feast with her. ...read more.


In contrast, however, the beadsman is very much living in reality. He faces the cold, cruel world outside, "Numb were the beadsman's fingers, while he told/His rosary, and while his frosted breath," The beadsman almost knows of his upcoming death and so does not bother to join in the feasting with the others, instead he sits alone and prays for his soul. This contrast with the beadsman and the two lovers, gives the poem another depth to its appearance of a beautiful love story. More hidden depths to the poem proving it is not just a colourful tapestry is that Porphyro was the archetypal hero of the time, although his presentation can be interpreted today as being something of a villain; Madeline being the deluded victim in Porphyro's scheming and plotting. ...read more.


The beadsman is also facing reality unlike the two lovers, he is in the sad and cold trying to pray for his sins before he dies, whereas the lovers are upstairs being sinful yet happy. This may have been a reflection upon the ineffectiveness of religion from Keats, creating another hidden meaning to his poem. Many have seen this poem as just a beautiful poem and read no more into the meanings and the depths Keats has excruciatingly taken time to create, that is why critics can easily say such things as Douglas Bush and Jack Sillenger, however there are those that will agree that there are hidden agenda's within this poem, such as that of M. R. Ridley, another editor of Keats' letters, who states, that 'The Eve of St. Agnes' is "not far short of perfection." ...read more.

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