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John Keats' Ode to Apollo was written in February 1815, and pays tribute to a whole pantheon full of great poets. The strength of these images is stronger than ever, as he is slowly finding his own poetic voice, which reaches its peak in Endymion.

Structurally, however, this ode is a mess. There is absolutely no commonality of form between the stanzas, and the words tend to trip over each other if you're not careful.

Ode to Apollo

In thy western halls of gold
When thou sittest in thy state,
Bards, that erst sublimely told
Heroic deeds, and sung of fate,
With fervour seize their adamantine lyres,
Whose cords are solid rays, and twinkle radiant fires.

There Homer with his nervous arms
Strikes the twanging harp of war,
And even the western splendour warms
While the trumpets sound afar;
But, what creates the most intense surprize,
His soul looks out through renovated eyes.

Then, through thy temple wide, melodious swells
The sweet majestic tone of Maro's lyre;
The soul delighted on each accent dwells,--
Enraptured dwells,--not daring to respire,
The while he tells of grief, around a funeral pyre.

'Tis awful silence then again:
Expectant stand the spheres;
Breathless the laurel'd peers;
Nr move, till ends the lofty strain,
Nor move till Milton's tuneful thunders cease,
And leave once more the ravish'd heavens in peace.

Thou biddest Shakespeare wave his hand,
And quickly forward spring
The Passions--a terrific band--
And each vibrates the string
That with its tyrant temper best accords,
While from their master's lips pour forth the inspiring words.

A silver trumpet Spenser blows,
And as its martial notes to silence flee,
From a virgin chorus flows
A hymn in praise of spotless chastity.
'Tis still!--Wild warblings from AEolian lyre
Enchantment softly breathe, and tremblingly expire.

Next, thy Tasso's ardent numbers
Float along the pleased air,
Calling youth from idle slumbers,
Rousing them from pleasure's lair:--
Then o'er the strings his fingers gently move,
And melt the soul to pity and to love.

8 But when Thou joinest with the Nine,
And all the powers of song combine,
We listen here on earth:
The dying tones that fill the air,
And charm the ear of evening fair,
From thee, great God of Bards, receive their heavenly birth.

‘Ode to Apollo’, in being dedicated to the god of poetry, seems to suggest a link between poetry and immortality. Indeed, the very act of resurrecting a cast of revered poets acts to transcend the notion of mortality, allowing them to live on in praise and in the eyes and ears of their readers. The power of poetry itself, in being able to transcend mortality, is also alluded to; for instance, in the line, “The soul delighted on each accent dwells,– / Enraptured dwells, – not daring to respire, / The while he tells of griefs, around a funeral pyre,” poetry is exalted for being able to defeat the mortal need to breathe, paradoxically through a recount of the grief that is the very mark of mortality. This power of poetry is also celebrated in Keats’s own use of poetic lyricism. The word “dwells” is perfectly suspended at the end of the line, as to make readers literally “dwell” on the poetic “delight” that is described. The following repetition, “Enraptured dwells” releases this sensation of suspension in imitation of the exhaling of breath – allowing the poem, otherwise immoral and lifeless, to be filled with an essence of life. Other examples of “breath”, “passion”, “pity” and “love” in the poem contribute the fusion that is created from the immortalising of poetry in praise and the moral experience of reading poetry – effectively blurring the line between Apollo’s immortal world and reader’s moral world.

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