John Keats, poet

"Ay, in the very temple of Delight
Veil'd Melancholy has her sovran shrine..."

by John Keats

NO, no, go not to Lethe, neither twist
Wolf's-bane, tight-rooted, for its poisonous wine;
Nor suffer thy pale forehead to be kiss'd
By nightshade, ruby grape of Proserpine;
Make not your rosary of yew-berries,
Nor let the beetle, nor the death-moth be
Your mournful Psyche, nor the downy owl
A partner in your sorrow's mysteries;
For shade to shade will come too drowsily,
And drown the wakeful anguish of the soul.

But when the melancholy fit shall fall
Sudden from heaven like a weeping cloud,
That fosters the droop-headed flowers all,
And hides the green hill in an April shroud;
Then glut thy sorrow on a morning rose,
Or on the rainbow of the salt sand-wave,
Or on the wealth of globed peonies;
Or if thy mistress some rich anger shows,
Emprison her soft hand, and let her rave,
And feed deep, deep upon her peerless eyes.

She dwells with Beauty--Beauty that must die;
And Joy, whose hand is ever at his lips
Bidding adieu; and aching Pleasure nigh,
Turning to poison while the bee-mouth sips:
Ay, in the very temple of Delight
Veil'd Melancholy has her sovran shrine,
Though seen of none save him whose strenuous tongue
Can burst Joy's grape against his palate fine;
His soul shalt taste the sadness of her might,
And be among her cloudy trophies hung.

*The allusions in this poem are as follows: Lethe, a river whose waters in Hades bring forgetfulness to the dead; nightshade and wolfsbane are poisonous herbs from which sedatives and opiates were extracted; Prosperine is the Queen of Hades; yew-berries are symbols of mourning which often grow in cemeteries; death-moth, beetle, downy owl et al. refers to the beetles, moths, and owls have been traditionally associated with darkness, death and burial - "Psyche" means "soul", sometimes symbolized by a moth that escapes the mouth in sleep or at death; and "She" in the beginning of the third stanza refers to the goddess Melancholy.

"Right now, Life is toying with me; dangling Death right in front of my nose, only to snatch it away when I reach out to grab it."