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How does John Keats use literary devices to convey meaning in the poem "Sonnet to...

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katrinakaif101 | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted April 12, 2012 at 5:13 AM via web

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How does John Keats use literary devices to convey meaning in the poem "Sonnet to Sleep"?

I have to write an essay on this topic, and I am not sure where to start! :)

 

Thanks for your help in advance!

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stolperia | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 12, 2012 at 2:02 PM (Answer #1)

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Keats starts out by using a metaphor, comparing sleep to an embalmer tending the body of a dead person, starting with closing the eyelids of the corpse. It's not a fearful gesture - the process is quiet and peaceful, as is the writing. "Shutting with careful fingers and benign, our gloom-pleased eyes" - the speaker in the poem is ready and eager to go to sleep, as confirmed when the speaker mentions "my willing eyes."

"Thy poppy throws" alludes to the narcotic effects of poppies, which could be used to induce the tranquility of sleep. If simply closing the speaker's eyes isn't enough to bring sleep, perhaps the addition of the "lulling charities" of poppies thrown "around my bed" will bring that welcome and wanted rest.

The reason for all this pleading for sleep to come is the speaker's concern about the "passed day" just ended. Using a simile, the speaker compares "Conscience" to a mole, strongly "burrowing" in the darkness of the night and keeping the speaker awake and "breeding many woes."

The poem ends with a return to the image that began the poem, comparing the stillness of a person in deep sleep to "the hushed casket of my soul."

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