The Eve of St. Agnes: Stanza 27 - Summary

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Soon, trembling in her soft and chilly nest,
In sort of wakeful swoon, perplex’d she lay,
Until the poppied warmth of sleep oppress’d
Her soothed limbs, and soul fatigued away;
Flown, like a thought, until the morrow-day;
Blissfully haven’d both from joy and pain;
Clasp’d like a missal where swart Paynims pray;
Blinded alike from sunshine and from rain,
As though a rose should shut, and be a bud again.


      In this stanza, we get a beautiful picture of lovely Madeline falling asleep in her bed. Like a frightened bird in its nest, she lies trembling in her chilly bed, in a kind of dreamy state, until oppressed by drowsiness causing warm sleep, her limbs are soothed and she is lulled to sleep. The poet says that just then, Madeline’s soul giving itself up to the fatigue of her excitement, flies away like a thought, until (she imagined) the morning of the next day. In this blissful state, she is sheltered from pain as well as from joy. Then follows a wonderfully beautiful and significant comparison of sleeping Madeline to a closed Christian Prayer-book in the place of worship of a Muslim who will never care to open it. In this state, she is shut out from sunshine and from rain (joy and pain). The poet closes the stanza with another exquisitely beautiful comparison. In falling asleep, Madeline appeared as beautiful as a full-blown rose closing all its petals and becoming a bud again. Comparisons like these are the very quintessence of poetry; ‘the closed missal’, signifies Madeline’s maiden purity, and a rose becoming a bud again, her ravishing beauty both while awake and also when asleep.

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