on death <--- can somebody anaylse this?

Discussion on the works of John Keats.

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on death <--- can somebody anaylse this?

Postby Siobhan » Fri Dec 12, 2003 1:26 am

please help me analyse " ON DEATH"
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Postby Rich Roach » Wed Dec 31, 2003 1:05 am

First of all, I believe this is one of those poems scholars have not totally accepted into the Keats canon, although I believe it is Keats's.

The death/sleep metaphor is used amply be writers, especially by Shakespeare whose MacBeth says that life is a dream "told by an idiot - signifying nothing." And, of course, there is Hamlet's famous "To be or not to be" soliloquy where Hamlet meditates on death as sleep.

Lines 1,2

Life is fleeting, things grow and die, and things in their prime will eventually wither away and "pass as a phantom by." See Shakespeare's sonnet XV (15), which I think might have been the source of this poem.

Lines 3,4

Keats continues, almost repeating what he said in the first two lines. This time, however, he relates that within the "dream" of life we have pleasures, but they are "transient", only with us for a short term, as if they were a "vision" or not real. Is the greatest pain, therefore, to die? Not if we realise that death happens to all things, and our fear of death only hampers our ability to appreciate the life that we are given.

Lines 5-8

It is odd that we must live a life in "the veil of tears" along the "path of woe" and not curse the life we are given. He takes the poem to a new depth when he speaks of the individual not daring to "view alone his future doom" - face death head-on - where death, Keats tells us, is actually an awakening. It is an oxymoron, isn't it? We fear death, but if it is only a step toward a new reality or life, then why should we? It is almost a barb against those who believe in an afterlife, suffer all their lives in pursuit of it, but ultimately fear death, which should lead to it.

This reminds me of Keats's other poems about religion.

I hope this helps.

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Rich Roach
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