The sample essay on The Eve Of St Agnes deals with a framework of research-based facts, approaches, and arguments concerning this theme. To see the essay’s introduction, body paragraphs and conclusion, read on.
The poet John Keats, inspired by the sentimental nature of his unrequited love for Fanny and the depression he felt due to the death of his mother and his brother, wrote both ballads using the key theme of time, to engage the listener. The use of tenses links succinctly in with Keats’ use of time. The change of tenses throughout “La Belle Dame”, whereby the first three verses are set in the present tense, “no birds sing”, verses four to eleven are set in the past, “I met a lady” and verse twelve is again set in the present, “no birds sing”.
The effect of this as well as the first and last verse including, “Alone and palely loitering”, is to create a circular chronological structure. This represents a question asked and answered within the poem and a feeling of entrapment within a cycle of death and love (key themes featuring in Keats’ poetry, and contextually in his life). Moreover, the lack of future tense suggests to the listener that there is to be no future and hence no hope – adding to the melancholy mood produced by Keats.
Conversely, Keats uses a linear chronology in the past tense throughout “The Eve of St Agnes”, “How changed”, in order to construct an ordered narrative. This separates the ‘feel of both poems, distinguishing one (“Eve of St Agnes”) as more story-like than the symbolic other (“La Belle Dame”). This also infers to the listener that Keats’ use of time was a deliberate endeavour within his poetry and not simply the standard arrangement of poetic literature of the time.
Words That Rhyme With Eve
The use of seasons and the weather conditions in “La Belle Dame” create the ambiance and atmosphere of the poem. As “the squirrel’s granary is full” dictating that “the harvest’s done” and that the agricultural labouring and gathering of the summer growth is complete, this implies the beginning of autumn, leading on to winter, “cold hill’s side”, and the cold, desolation of the surroundings that is associated with it. This use of pathetic fallacy warns the listener for what is to come later in the poem, adding to the sense of intrigue and mystery.
However, whilst he is with her, summer is inferred via the use of sensual floral references, “garland for her head” (touch), “fragrant zone” (smell), suggesting the warmth and intimacy of his feelings for her. This atmospheric separation between the seasons intensifies the loneliness and suffering of the knight after his meeting with her, “alone and palely loitering”. “The Eve of St Agnes” also uses a wintry setting, “bitter chill”, “trembling [… frozen grass”, “frosted breath”, yet this is used to conjure the symbolism of God and Madeline’s family’s disapproval of their courtship. This creates the impression of a ‘higher power’ perhaps scrutinising Porphyro and Madeline’s doings; Porphyro’s inner thoughts, fears and paranoia. Similarly, Keats’ use of the “Moon” represents the urgency of Porphyro’s passion, particularly as the moon is commonly associated with its ‘lunar calendar’, in which he has to capture Madeline before his opportunity is lost, “I’ve mickle time to grieve”, an expression of his determination.
Both poems create a medieval scene, “La Belle Dame”; “knight-at-arms”, “pale warriors”, “faery’s child”, “pacing steed”, “Eve of St Agnes; “”lofty plume” (reference to a knight’s helmet), “witch’s sieve”, “liege-lord”, “Elves and Fays”, “wolves and bears”, “Merlin”, “Dame”, “maiden”, “queens and kings”, “mermaid”, “Beadsman”, via a plague of fairy tale characters, having the effect of setting up both poems for an atmosphere of a differing time period to that in which Keats wrote the poems.
This creates a historical parallel between the world Keats imagined within the medieval ‘Romeo and Juliet’-esque time period and his own affairs and thoughts of Fanny. In addition to this, the use of archaic language such as, “La Belle Dame”; “steed”, “woebegone” and “Eve of St Agnes”; “thy”, “thee”, “Quoth”, help create the practicality and realism within these imaginary characters and historical scenarios.
Unlike the more untouched setting of “La Belle Dame”, “the sedge has withered from the lake”, Castle imagery is extensively used in “The Eve of St Agnes”; “arched way”, “dusky gallery”, “chamber”, “balustrade”, “citadel”, “carved angels”, “level chambers”, portraying the scene within the listener’s mind’s eye. In addition, “The Eve of St Agnes” is written in Spenserian stanzas, adding to the medieval feel of the poem (Spenser invented the term ‘Spenserian stanza’ to be used within his epic, medieval poem, “The Faerie Queen”).
The use of an irregular rhyme scheme in “The Eve of St Agnes”- Iambic pentameter except for last line which is iambic hexameter – suggests an ongoing narrative throughout as well as displaying the infrequency of the pagan Eve of St Agnes feast (whereby virgins may see their future husbands). Also, syndetic listing is included within the caesura, “and sleep, and dream” creating a rhythm comparable to that of a heart beat, in order to show how Porphyro’s fear creates a slow motion of time and an increased physical and sexual awareness, as he prepares to witness Madeline. La Belle Dame” involves a similar rhyme scheme – iambic tetrameter except for the last line of each stanza that are of varying length – this variation of length represents the abrupt change in the relationship/ knight’s life, as the listener, lulled into a security within the regularity, is subconsciously disturbed by a change in rhyme in verse nine.
Overall, the use of time in both poems aids the in-depth view into Keats’ life and emotional workings. Ultimately, it is his use of archaisms that create the setting, yet it is his use of tenses, seasons, rhythm and rhyme scheme that imply the subtleties of “The Eve of St Agnes” and “La Belle Dame sans Merci”.