FANDOM


Template:No footnotes

File:Eve of St Agnes.jpg
"The Eve of St. Agnes" is a long poem (378 lines ) by John Keats, written in 1819 and published in 1820. It is widely considered to be amongst his finest poems and was influential in 19th century literature. The poem is in Spenserian stanzas.

The poem (Stanza 1)Edit

I.

  St. Agnes’ Eve — Ah, bitter chill it was!
  The owl, for all his feathers, was a-cold;
  The hare limp’d trembling through the frozen grass,
  And silent was the flock in woolly fold:
  Numb were the Beadsman’s fingers, while he told 5
  His rosary, and while his frosted breath,
  Like pious incense from a censer old,
  Seem’d taking flight for heaven, without a death,
Past the sweet Virgin’s picture, while his prayer he saith.

[...]

Read the rest at The Eve of St. Agnes

BackgroundEdit

The title comes from the day (or evening) before the feast of Saint Agnes (or St. Agnes' Eve). St. Agnes, the patron saint of virgins, died a martyr in fourth century Rome. The eve falls on January 20; the feast day on the 21. The divinations referred to by Keats in this poem are referred to by John Aubrey in his Miscellanies (1696) as being associated with St. Agnes' night. Keats based his poem on the superstition that a girl could see her future husband in a dream if she performed certain rites on the eve of St. Agnes; that is she would go to bed without any supper, undress herself so that she was completely naked and lie on her bed with her hands under the pillow and looking up to the heavens and not to look behind. Then the proposed husband would appear in her dream, kiss her, and feast with her.

A Scottish version of the ritual would involve young women meeting together on St. Agnes's Eve at midnight, they would go one by one, into a remote field and throw in some grain, after which they repeated the following rhyme in a prayer to St. Agnes:

“ Agnes sweet, and Agnes fair, Hither, hither, now repair; Bonny Agnes, let me see The lad who is to marry me. ”

In the original version of his poem, Keats emphasized the young lovers' sexuality, but his publishers, who feared public reaction, forced him to tone down the eroticism.

PlotEdit

File:Hunt William Holman The flight of Madeline and Porphyro during the Drunkenness attending the Revelry Eve of Saint Agnes.jpg

On a bitterly chill night, an ancient beadsman performs his penances while in the castle of Madeline's warlike family, a bibulous revel has begun. Madeline pines for the love of Porphyro, sworn enemy to her kin. The old dames have told her she may receive sweet dreams of love from him if on this night, St. Agnes' Eve, she retires to bed under the proper ritual of silence and supine receptiveness.

As we might expect, Porphyro makes his way to the castle and braves entry, seeking out Angela, an elderly woman friendly to his family, and importuning her to lead him to Madeline's room at night where he may but gaze upon her sleeping form. Angela is persuaded only with difficulty, saying she fears damnation if Porphyro does not afterward marry the girl.

Concealed in an ornate carven closet in Madeline's room, Porphyro watches as Madeline makes ready for bed, and then, beholding her full beauty in the moonlight, creeps forth to prepare for her a feast of rare delicacies. Madeline wakes and sees before her the same image she has seen in her dream, and thinking Porphyro part of it, receives him into her bed. Awakening in full and realizing her mistake, she tells Porphyro she cannot hate him for his deception since her heart is so much in his, but that if he goes now he leaves behind "A dove forlorn and lost / With sick unpruned wing".

Porphyro declares his love for Madeline and promises her a home with him over the southern moors. They escape the castle past insensate revelers, and flee into the night. The beadsman, "His thousand Aves told / For aye unsought-for slept among his ashes cold".

External linksEdit

Template:Sister


This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. (view article). (view authors).
This page uses content from Wikinfo . The original article was at Wikinfo:The Eve of St. Agnes by John Keats.
The list of authors can be seen in the (view authors). page history. The text of this Wikinfo article is available under the GNU Free Documentation License and the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 license.

Ad blocker interference detected!


Wikia is a free-to-use site that makes money from advertising. We have a modified experience for viewers using ad blockers

Wikia is not accessible if you’ve made further modifications. Remove the custom ad blocker rule(s) and the page will load as expected.