Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Ode to Melancholy, by John Keats

Welcome to the Situation Room:

Brendan Lorber runs LUNGFULL! magazine, hosts Secret Laboratory an online video interview series, curates The Zinc Reading Series and does The Acculorber Weekend Weather Report (which is not about the weather). He is teaching a workshop at the St. Mark's Poetry Project called "Poetry, ruin my life: the poetics of trouble." He is the author of Gold Star, Dash, and Your Secret among others. He packs light, but isn't afraid to pack heat if he has to.

Our poem:

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 glob├Ęd 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 shall taste the sadness of her might,
And be among her cloudy trophies hung.

Ready, set, crossfire!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for putting this poem in front of me again. I think its time I entered another Keats phase. And Mr. Lorber, bravo, you've anagrammed the Ode into its grittier urban complement.