woman on her side in the clouds crying and the tears fall on a rose that is losing its petals

Ode on Melancholy

by John Keats

Start Free Trial

Explain Romantic poetry by giving examples from "Ode on Melancholy" by John Keats.

Romantic poetry strayed away from a focus on logic and toward a focus on human individuality and creativity. Romantic poets encouraged readers to embrace spontaneous feelings and connect with the natural world. Keats’s “Ode on Melancholy” encourages readers to find beauty in their emotions by comparing these emotions to parts of nature, such as clouds that obscure green hills. Such comparisons are representative of Romantic poetry because they emphasize the importance of human emotion and revere nature’s magnificence.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The Romantic movement marked an intellectual shift from focus on logic and scientific facts, and instead emphasized spontaneity, individuality, and the beauty of the natural world. Romantic poetry embodied this way of thinking, and you can often identify a Romantic poem from the way it encourages readers to look toward or connect with nature, embrace a spontaneous attitude, or engage in creative thinking. John Keats’s “Ode on Melancholy” includes many examples of the Romantic style, but I will focus on a few to help get you started.

One of the key tenets of Romantic poetry reflected in Keats's work is how it points to the natural world as a reflection of human emotions. The speaker prompts melancholy individuals to look toward nature to find beauty in their sorrow. For example, consider how Keats compares sporadic waves of melancholy emotions to a cloud that “ hides the green hill in an April shroud” (Keats, line 14). A “shroud” is something that obscures the view of another thing. Thus here Keats is saying that the way melancholy feelings obscure a person’s positive emotions is similar to the way a cloud hides a landscape.

In addition, note the way Keats' speaker also encourages melancholy people to “glut thy sorrow on a morning rose, / Or on the rainbow of the salt sand-wave” (lines 15–16). Here Keats tells people to strive to see beauty in their feelings of sorrow, beauty that is comparable to that of flowers or the beach. Such connections between nature and human emotions is very Romantic in style.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team