Thursday, May 1, 2008

Close Reading to: John Keats, "Sonnet to Sleep"

Then save me, or the passed day will shine
Upon my pillow, breeding many woes:
Save me from curious Conscience, that still hoards
Its strength for darkness, burrowing like a mole;
Turn the key deftly in the oiled wards,
And seal the hushed Casket of my Soul. (Lines 9-14).

We as readers can almost interpret the meaning of the poem through its title. The initial impression I had upon reading the title of Keats' poem was that he is describing one of the most pleasurable experiences anyone can experience: sleeping! I say this only because when one sleeps, the mind is free to wander wherever it wants, there are no worries and your body is in a state of total relaxation. It is apparent that Keats is using personification; he is trying to give a human faculty to something that is abstract, something that we cannot hear or even touch. After reading the poem a few times, it becomes more evident that Keats is showing the reader there is something that he wants to forget. In the lines, "Save me from curious Conscience that still hoards..." (Keats line 11). This verse conveys to the reader that the speaker is still alive and suffering from something and the only solution is to await death. When discussing the structure of the poem, it is clear that the poem is made up of two quartets and two trios, it seems the rhyme scheme is, A-B-A-B and A-B-B. In this last stanza, we as readers can say that the author emphasizes his wishes. The last line in the stanza above is a metaphor, "casket of my soul" (Keats line 14). The author is expressing his feelings; he knows that the only option that he has is to leave what he wants behind in life. In this poem, in my own opinion, the author seems to be very frustrated; I can also sense that he feels powerless against the world and what will become of him. I find a contradiction between sadness and happiness but my general understanding of the poem is that he is simply awaiting death.

Keats, John. "Sonnet to Sleep." The Norton Introduction to Poetry. J. Paul Hunter, Alison Booth, and Kelly J. Mays. 9th edition. New York: Norton, 2007. 266.


AmyD. said...

I find it ironic that he uses the term "casket of my soul." The whole idea of wanting to shut up his dreams when he sleeps is to prove that his dreams/thoughts while sleeping are far to unruly for his liking. By calling it a casket however, doesn't the reader get a sensation that the thoughts are somehow enclosed in that double door box? The irony then is that he is referring to something that seems so uncontainable and yet, it is in itself, a type of container.

Amy L said...

This poem relates to many because all of us at one time or another have wanted to just sleep to escape the issues surrounding our lives that are not pleasant. I like this poem because it is real and I don't feel that is has a numerous amount of underlying meanings, yet it is interesting and enticing to read. I agree that it is somewhat ironic that he uses the term "casket of my soul" because it gives us a sense of irony.