Ode to Naptune: by John Keats - Summary & Analysis

Also Read

      The Ode to Neptune is a part of Book III of Endymion. Endymion, the lover of Diana pursues her in the depths of the ocean. In his journey under the sea, Endymion relieves glances from the enchantment of voice. Glacancer’s beloved Seylla and all her dead lovers are found from the submarine jail. All of them join in singing the ode to Neptune, the god of the sea. Here the poet exploits his delight in sermons’ objects—the rusting water, the bowling storms and the under-seat rocks which are under the domain of Neptune. There are in fact three themes in the poem and a stanza is devoted to each of them. There are Neptune—the god of the sea, Diana or Cyntherea—the moon goddess and Cupid, the son and god of love. The address to Cupid may be due to Keats’s love of Fanny Brawne. The references to the misfortunes of lovers contain a link of his own tensions, anxieties and frustrations. Love is the light which lures man in darkness and oilers him some solace or comfort.


      The first stanza is devoted to the praise and glory of Neptune the god of the Ocean. He is the co-inventor of the regions of Nature; his brother Jove is the ruler of heaven, his other brother Pluto is the ruler of hell. The sea-waves are terribly afraid of Neptune, so are the rocks in the sea which fear his mighty storms. The mountain rivers pay their homage and tribute to the sea-bed. The god of the wind, in mortal fear of Neptune, confines himself in his mountain cave. Even the dark clouds are feared by the light of his shining crown. The music of the singing waves which resemble the music of the spheres accompanies the chariot of Neptune. But Neptune being the master of storms and rough sea does not fit into the gentle and peaceful scene of Diana’s marriage. Anyway, the lovers gathered there and would like to offer their adoration to Neptune.

The white queen of beauty

      The second stanza is devoted to the main topic Diana and her marriage ceremony. Let there be gentle and soft music, let not even the gentle motion of the blossoming flowers, the breathing of the dove, the gentle movement of river’s water or the twang of the Aeolian harp disturb the soft ears of goddess Cynthia (Diana). Even so the poet requests Diana to accept his offers of love and devotion.

The sweetest Cupid

      The stanza is in praise of Cupid, the son of Diana. He is the god of lovers and panting hearts. Though love is blind, it offers some light in this dark world. It is a source of comfort and satisfaction in spite of anxieties and tensions. The sufferings of lovers are welcome. Love is like the sweetly poisoned cup. The lovers drink it, never minding the consequences. The magic and glory of love is that inspite of disappointments and sorrows, lovers welcome it with all the means at their command. The poet is prepared to drink the poisoned cup of love. This has a reference to the gloomy and sad life of Keats on account of his unfulfilled love.

Critical Analysis

      Keats’s sensuousness is here in God’s plenty. We are bewildered by the profusion of images. Lock at the description of Neptune. His trident unlocks the deep foundations of the stubborn rocks; old Aeolus skulks to his cavern; dark clouds faint at his dazzling crown. His chariot shines in the morning light. He is the shell-borne king. Similarly, Diana, the gentle moon goddess is not happy with the softest music of flower breathing of dove, and flowing waters. However, the imagery of Keats reaches its climax in his adoration of Cupid-the god of love. The bright winged Venus dispels the glooms of lovers with light pinions. He is the god of warm impulses and bare bosoms, the eclipser of light, delicious poisoner and so on. Secondly, the poet’s own feelings of love, his disappointment and frustrations are echoed indirectly through his description of Cupid. The renowned goblet of the poet which he filled and drank, led to his early death and the end of his song. The last line in each stanza indicates the adoration of each god—‘awe sing and adore”, “on our soul’s sacrifice”; “And by thy mother’s lips” The poet harps his tribute to three gods Neptune, Diana and Cupid, poem is remarkable for its sheer love of beauty, music and felicity of phrase.

Previous Post Next Post