To Diana: by John Keats - Summary & Analysis

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Introduction

      This is a nuptial ode in honor of the approaching marriage of Diana - the moon goddess with Endymion. The song is an invitation to the various constellations for attending the wedding. The poet describes the constellations in the sky which perform their own functions and are now requested to bring their gifts and tributes on this auspicious occasion. Keats introduces a number of mythological figures from Greek literature which may not be known to a lay reader. He assumes that all the constellations and their deities are keen on attending this marriage.

Summary

      All the gods and goddesses would leave their places and hurry to the wedding of Diana with Endymion. The evening star - Hesperus is spreading his wings to fly to the place of the wedding. The west wind and Flora collect basket full of flowers and herbs from all parts of the world to make offerings for the wedding-ceremony. The flowers and herbs include rose, daffodil, fennel, pine, columbines, basil and many others. Aquarius, the water-sign of the Zodiac should enable Diana, the moon-goddess to appear whiter than usual on this occasion. Castor rode the Lion, Pollux the Bear and Centaur on his hind legs to rush to the place of the wedding. The constellations connected with the lunar signs have obtained supers macy over those that belong to the solar signs of the Zodiac on this happy occasion. The poet requests Andromeda to hurry up and not to feel shy. She should join the constellations and be present at the wedding. Andromeda like Daphne will be immortal as Perseus saved her from the sea monster.

Critical Analysis

      As a song of marriage, it does not give any details of the courtship and love of Diana and Endymion. Diana is the moon-goddess also known as Cynthia, while Endymion is a common shepherd with whom she falls in love. As a wedding song, it should have been more musical than it is. The poet, however, uses his talent in describing the beauty of the stars and the constellations. To many, the names of these constellations are new. Keats also introduces the pathetic story of Andromeda, as he writes her to attend the wedding of Diana. There he saw good images. Zephyrus and Flora collect basket full of all kinds of flowers and herbs and this gives a touch of sensuousness to the poem. Similarly, the task of Aquarius to illumine and brighten the moon-like face of Diana so that she appears exceedingly beautiful on her wedding day adds to the charm of the poem. The love of the heavenly goddess for a human being, makes Keats feel that love is both sensuous and divine. In the beginning it may be physical but ultimately it develops into sublime love. The references to the story of Andromeda and Perseus and that of Apollo and Daphne gives a pathetic touch to this wedding song.

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