The ‘Eve of St. Agnes’ is a narrative poem, enabling the reader to have a clear memory of the structure of the poem. He writes the poem in Spenserian stanza the stanza consists of eight lines of iambic pentameter followed by a single alexandrine, a twelve-syllable iambic line- it uses a complex rhyming scheme. This makes the poem more exiting, and satisfying to read, flowing easily.
It also makes it easier to gage what Keats is stressing in the poem- the words he places emphasis on seem to be quite downbeat- not those that you would expect from a romantic poem, for example in one of the most romantic sections as Porphyro follows Madeline to her room in secret words used connote death; “tomb”, deception; “deceive” and depression “grieve”. The story follows two lovers- Madeline and Porphyro, both of opposing upbringings, and prohibited from seeing one another.Order now
Madeline awaits a dream, in which her true love will appear; Porphyro secretly enters her room while she is sleeping to surprise her when she wakes. But the twist in the poem comes when Madeline awakes; she is faced with disappointment in reality… “How pallid, chill and drear! ” and one questions the sincerity of Madeline’s love. Has she been manipulated into believing her dreams- deceived by Porphyro hiding in her room, or has her dreams deceived her. Porphyro seems to feel an urgency to become something- the climax of the dream, or perhaps the dream itself…
“Into her dream he melted”. This suggests Porphyro knows Madeline will want more out of him, and so he has to prove himself by becoming the fantasy. Keats raises the themes of dreams and fantasy in contrast with the reality- raising the question if dreams really do come true, and if they do have they left ones ‘dream situation’ and become reality. Is Madeline “Hoodwinked with faery fancy – all amort”? The poem is one of many comparisons- enhanced by the sensual imagery in which Keats describes them.
However all comparisons seem to be placed to enhance the effect of dream opposed to reality. For example in the opening we are thrown into the freezing cold outside the castle, where everything is sedate and… “seem to freeze”, the images used are very earthy, natural and connote a feeling of pure reality; but also an acceptance of the nature of life, and the simplicity with which you can live with. Without warning we enter into the noisy and animated ballroom, where the company are celebrating a night of idealistic dreams. There is a sense of luxury, anticipation and “rich” extravagance.
There is an air of fantasy in the air, of “old romance”, and tension is built as we await Madeline’s dream. We as the reader are exited about the dream, and tensions build as we question who will appear for Madeline. By doing this Keats has brought us into the poem, making up feel in accordance with all the girls on ‘the eve of St. Agnes’. When Madeline is disappointed, it acts as an anti- climax for the reader- I think this is one of the most memorable sections in the poem, a subtle twist to the romance of the poem. I think this poem is made memorable by Keats ability to stimulate a story.
His use of rich sensual imagery simulates the reader’s imagination and by using elaborate pictorial effects Keats creates and sets the story for the reader, thus making it easier to remember. As the ‘eve of St. Agnes’ is a long poem Keats needs to keep the readers attention, tension is carefully built up throughout the poem. The dramatic contrasts used keep the readers attention, and the rapid changes in perception between characters builds tension. The richness of the poem it exiting and touches and absorbs the reader, making it a very memorable read.