Ode on Melancholy: Stanza 3 - Summary

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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 tonguee
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.

Summary

      She dwells.....trophies hung—In this stanza, Keats describes true character of melancholy. He tells us its nature and relation with other sentiments and feelings. By using concrete imageries and personifications, he throws light on the psychological truth about melancholy. He personifies Melancholy as a goddess She and the goddess of Beauty dwell in the same temple. Beauty by its very nature is short-lived. It is this fact which gives birth to melancholy in man’s mind. He feels sad because he can enjoy beauty for a short time only. Thus Keats allies melancholy to beauty. According to him, melancholy is a essential part of beauty because it is from beauty that melancholy is born. Anything which is beautiful, must have a tinge of melancholy in it. What Keats says about the relationship of beauty and melancholy seems to be a paradox. But this relationship is clearly perceived by those who have delicate sense of perception and who knows the keenness of beauty and joy In fact, nothing which is beautiful or graceful or delightful is found in its pure form without being unmixed with sadness.

      Again, the goddess of Melancholy and the god of Joy are dwellers in the same temple. The god of Joy always keeps his finger on his lips to bid farewell to his worshippers. This shows the transitory of joy. While a man is steeped in joy, he does not forget this fact. This makes him melancholy. Lastly, Melancholy dwells close to the god of sensuous pleasures whose keenness merges into pain. It is because even when a pleasure-seeker is testing the sweetness of physical delights like a bee which sucks honey out of flowers, he remains conscious of the fact that the sweetness of his happiness will be changed into the bitterness of poison. He will reach a stage when satiety and exhaustion which are the natural after-effects of pleasures will fall to his lot. This fills him with melancholy before the pleasure has run its full course.

      The poet confirms his view that Melancholy dwells with Beauty, Joy and Pleasure. He tells us further about the nature of melancholy before the pleasure has run its full course.

      The poet further confirms his view that Melancholy dwells with Delight in the same temple. What he means is that delight and melancholy are inseparable. Where one is present, the other is also found. The goddess of Delight is worshipped in her own temple. In that very temple the goddess of Melancholy, who hides her face under a veil, has built her chief altar. Thus those who go to the temple to worship the goddess of Delight, also worship the goddess of Melancholy. What the poet means is that though delight and melancholy are quite opposite to each other, yet one who tastes delight, enjoys melancholy also. The former leads to the latter. Only he who appreciates delight, can praise melancholy.

      Keats expresses this idea very beautifully through an image, lie compares joy to a ripe and juicy fruit. Its sweetness is tasted that person only who presses it hard against the sensitive roof of this mouth that it breaks. Similarly, only that person who has tasted the sweetness of joy can appreciate the bitterness of melancholy. It is such a soul only which experiences the full force of the bitterness of melancholy. The soul is compared to a cloud which is hung as a trophy in the shrine of Melancholy. In other words, only those persons who have very sensitive souls, can taste the subtlest joy and its natural corollary melancholy and can give themselves up to the pleasant pain of sadness.

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