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.