Poetry Slam Friday: The Odes of John Keats, Ode to Psyche

Hey guys. Been a while hasn’t it since a post like this. Between school, extra-curricular and applications (to US no less), keeping up with even one post per month has been hard. However, I recently joined the A* Challenge along with a hundred other blogs, and I stand by my decision to go for those stars.

Which includes filling this blog with every scrap of my e-literature notes. Recently, we completed the Odes of John Keats covered in our syllabus, which I will post here. Happy reading!

Ode to Psyche

Background: Myth of Psyche

Long ago, in beautiful, hedonistic Greece, Psyche is born. Psyche is the last born of her three sisters, and the most beautiful at that.  So beautiful is she that she men worshiped her more than Aphrodite, the goddess of love, lust and beauty. How could a mere mortal be more beautiful than a Goddess? Psyche is so much more benevolent, cute, and she human isn’t she?

Naturally, this pissed Aphrodite off. So, she sent her son, the handsome Cupid to “take care” of Pysche.

But Nicole, isn’t Cupid a bouncy baby boy, and not a man? How could his mom—

Pont taken. to avoid confusion, I’ll call him Eros, the god of lust and love and beauty, just like his mommy. That name’s sexier anyway. Eros flies over to embarrass Psyche then maybe kill her. He flies on silken white wings with his blonde hair flowing in the wing then stops at her balcony.

Psyche, dressed in a long white sleeping gown, sighs as she reaches the railing. She looks down into the pool of water at the base of her home a then says, “I curse the beauty I was born with.”

You see, although Psyhe was beautiful, kind, and a lovely girl, she had no suitors. (Tell me about it girlfriend.) Men were either intimidated by her beauty or saw her as an object to be revered, just as they had seen Aprodite. Cupid lowered his bow slightly, feeling for the young woman. But he didn’t lose focus.

He aimed his arrow, still slightly lower than it should have been, and shot at her, hoping to hit her and have her fall in love with her own image. Instead, he shot himself in the foot.

And fell in love.

***

Cupid—er I mean Eros, crazy in love, carried Psyche to the edge of Greek and placed in a mansion under house arrest out of his love for her, then rape—consummated their marriage in secret while somehow protecting his identity and his wings. And despite being a kidnapper, controlling, and sexually, uh demanding, Psyche fell in love with him. Eros told her that he would always love and cherish her, so long as she never looked upon his face, or felt along his body.

When did I start retelling 50 Shades of Grey? Or is that more along the lines of Twilight? Anyway…

One day Psyche’s sisters came over to visit. They were amazed by the beauty and statue of her home, and how close her house to Olympus(!). So they asked her who her husband was.

She had no idea who it was. Her sisters prodded her further. “How is that possible? Haven’t you two consummated your marriage?”

“Yes, but um…I haven’t seen his face.” Now, her sisters were confused and worried. They’re heard of Hades and Persephone and of Hercules (not the best husband) and Zeus. What if some prick god was playing around with her?

So they asked her to find out who her husband is, like normal people. It wasn’t that hard. After Eros had fallen asleep after sex, she lit a match and looked upon his face for the first time.

She gasped. It wasn’t some prick god, it was Eros in all his glory. She started to weep for not trusting him enough, and her tears woke up Eros, who was furious. He left their home in a rage, leaving Psyche all alone.

***

After getting all weepy eyed, she climbed up Olympus to ask Aphrodite for the hand of her son back. But Aphrodite was still pissed at this girl.

Lady, let it go. She’s nicer than you. She’s prettier too.

Aphrodite then sets up three challenges, each one more confusing and dangerous than the last. But seeing as this post is getting way to long for busy A Level students, I’ll cut to the chase:

Aphrodite completes all the tasks, and was in the middle of completing the last challenge: carry a box of Persephone’s beauty in a box after collecting water from the River Styx. Psyche, like the audience is wondering how beauty could be put in a box. Out of curiosity, opens the box, only to find that it was a sleeping spell meant for Aphrodite so that she will stop bothering Psyche and Eros. This is where this poem comes in. In the first stanza, Eros is coming to the forest where she fell asleep, and is in the process of waking her up.

After which, he will take her to Olympus to become the last goddess of Greek legend.

Phew! There. Beat that Shmoop. J (I love you Shmoopy.)

Theme:

The main theme of the ode is Immortality, exaltation, self confidence, perfection, and love conquers all.

Structure

This ode has the loosest rhyme scheme of all of Keats’ odes and borders on free verse. It interesting to note that in his personal letters however, he complains that it took a lot out of him as a poet. Don’t sweat it dude. We’re here to dissect your work for you.

Four stanzas: Stanza 1 – Introducing Psyche

Stanza 2 – Goddess with No Temple

Stanza 3 – Priestly Application

Stanza 4 – My Mind a Temple

Diction

Interesting words: “tuneless”, “Dryads”, “brooklet”, “Tyrian”, “virgin choir”, “zephyrs” “trellis”

Tone:

Enticing, erotic, seductive, confident

Devices:

Personification, imagery,

Intention/Audience

This poem is obviously made out to Psyche, but also, in a way, it’s for himself. After Keats’ odes were published, he pretty much gave up on writing. This, and his other odes serve as a last hooray.

Success

To be honest, I didn’t like this poem that much. It was a lovely piece, all about the immortality of the main muse, Psyche, but it does her no justice. Come on guys! She like the female Hercules, only nicer! Why not have something like Steven Universe to match it?

Thanks for reading guys! I Hope you stick we me as I pursue 4a*s in Biology, chemistry, physics, and of course, Literature.

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