The Eve of St. Agnes: Stanza 14 - Summary

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“St. Agnes! Ah! it is St. Agnes’ Eve—
“Yet men will murder upon holy days:
“Thou must hold water in a witch’s sieve,
“And be liege-lord of all the Elves and Fays,
“To venture so: it fills me with amaze
“To see thee, Porphyro!—St. Agnes’ Eve!
“God’s help! my lady fair the conjuror plays
“This very night: good angels her deceive!
“But let me laugh awhile, I’ve mickle time to grieve.”


      These lines are taken from Keats’s narrative poem The Eve of St. Agnes. Angela, the old nurse of Madeline points out that even St. Agnes’ Eve was too dangerous for Porphyro to come to the castle of Madeline’s father. He was too rash a person not to have calculated the risk involved in this venture.

      These words are uttered by the old nurse Angela. In her opinion, it was extremely foolish on the party of Porphyro to venture into the castle of his enemies on the Eve of St. Agnes. These foes of Porphyro were extremely cruel. If they found Porphyro there, they were sure to put him to death without ever stopping to think that the day was holy and religious. Porphyro must have been a great magician, a wizard, or must have at his command all the fairies, otherwise he would never have ventured to enter the castle of his enemies so boldly. Angela was sure that Porphyro could now save himself only by magic and not by any ordinary methods.

      Madeline tells him that she is amazed to see him there. Again remembering that it is St. Agnes’ Eve she says: “May God help her! My young lady is playing this night the part of an enchanter to raise the spirit of her future husband. How I wish she may do so”. While saying this, she laughs and apologizes that she may be allowed to laugh for a little time, as she has too much time to grieve.

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