N. Hilton, Lexis Complexes

5. Keats, Teats, and the Fane of Poesy



I am not strong enough to be weaned
                         --Letter, February 1820(?)



Detailed data for Keats's early life, as for most any life, are unavailable, so we make fictions of the little that is recorded and the less to be evoked here. The eldest son of young parents, displaced by a first brother at age sixteen months and by a second at age four, he "used to say," according to his friend Joseph Severn, "that his great misfortune had been that from his infancy he had no mother" (cited in Gittings, Keats 25). A window on Keats's sense of his past opens in this comment to his sister-in-law: "If I were your Son I shouldn't mind you, though you rapt me with the Scissars--But lord! I should be out of favor sin the little un be comm'd."(1) The death of a one-and-a-half-year-old third brother when Keats was seven harrowed his psyche for the ensuing trauma of his father's accidental death somewhat over a year later, and, to conclude the disastrous end to the young boy's first year away at school, the rash remarriage of his mother, like Hamlet's, two months after his father's death. This was not to be the end of unhappiness, for the following year saw the death of his mother's father, the strong paterfamilias whose first name John bore, a dispute over the will, and the three boys and toddler sister suddenly parked with the widowed grandmother while their mother, evidently troubled in her relationships, left her new husband for another fancy. Four years later, distressed and sick, she rejoined her children under her mother's care, to be nursed "with devoted attachment" by her favorite eldest son (as B. R. Haydon was told seven years afterwards [Haydon 2.107 2.107]), and to linger over a year until abandoning him forever in March of 1810. When told of her death, the fourteen-and-a-half-year-old student "gave way to `impassioned and prolonged grief'; which overcame him so violently that even in the school-room he had to hide himself in an alcove under the master's high desk" (Gittings, Keats 29 ). The ensuing death of his "granny good," when he was nineteen, and the departure, four years later, of his brother George to America followed by the wasting away of younger Tom, kept the experience of loss continually before the emerging poet. "I have never known any unalloy'd Happiness for many days together," he wrote in 1819; "the death or sickness of someone has always spoilt my hours" ( 2.123 ).

Keats's "burden of the past" is thus acutely personal as well as cultural, and the inescapable mourning of that past that both strives for and resists acknowledgment can be seen as one of the determinations directing Keats to puns and poetry.(2) Appropriately for this formulation, what often appears as his first poem, "Imitation of Spenser," opens with the line "Now Morning from her orient chamber came," whose double suggestion anticipates later images of "dewdrops of morning" ("On Receiving a Curious Shell" 32) as "the tears / That fill'd the eyes of morn" ("To My Brother George [sonnet]" 2-3) or "the early sobbing of the morn" ("I stood tip-toe" 7) and is fully realized in "Ode on Melancholy"'s injunction to "glut thy sorrow on a morning rose" (15). A section of Endymion continues this troping as it describes the hero "vex'd like a mourning eagle" in a "mournful place" and then carries him (via an eagle) to a bower where he imagines being "so sad, so melancholy, so bereft!" without his love, whom, despite her dancing "before the morning gates of heaven," he thinks to rescue "from the morning" (all in the space of sixty lines: 2.635, 650, 685, 688, 697). Keats knows, as well as Freud in "Mourning and Melancholia," that the mourning that cannot be spoken and worked through ends in the "morbid fancy" ("To Hope" 21) of melancholy:

In melancholy realms big tears are shed,
More sorrow like to this, and such-like woe,
Too huge for mortal tongue, or pen of scribe.

           (The Fall of Hyperion [FH] 2.7-9; cf. Hyperion [H] 1.158-60)

But he knows too that his knowledge and fine language cannot finally help him: our own misfortunes "touch us too nearly for words," he writes his brother (19 Mar. 1819; 2.79 ), and the image of the "full weight of utterless thought" in Hyperion bears testimony to the saturation of pining desire as it groans bleakly in "the roar of bleak-grown pines" (H 2.120, 122). So, toward the end of his life, he notes, "I am afraid to speak of what I would the fainest dwell upon" (1 Nov. 1820; 2.351), and earlier, "How frequently I forget to speak of things, which I think of & feel most" (12 Mar. 1819; 2.71). Still earlier he writes in verse to a friend that he has "a mysterious tale" which he "cannot speak": evidently a vision following his nightly "wonted thread / Of Shapes, and Shadows and Remembrances," and embodying the "flaw / In happiness to see beyond our bourn" that "forces us in Summer skies to mourn" ("Dear Reynolds" 2-3, 86-87, 82-83; 25 Mar. 1818; 1.263).

Keats's poetry enacts the desperate double attempt at once to communicate and to circumvent personal history. "Tongues" are "loos'd in poesy. / Therefore no lover did of anguish die" ("I stood tip-toe," 225-26), but at the same time the writer announces with prophetic prescience that

If I do hide myself, it sure shall be
In the very fane, the light of Poesy

           ("Sleep and Poetry," 275-76)

Here the temple or "fane" perhaps would fain feign its alteration of "Fanny" (for Frances), the name of the poet's mother, sister, and intended wife--veiling already the foreknowledge that "in the very temple of Delight" (the fane of fain) "veil'd Melancholy has her sovran shrine" ("Ode on Melancholy" 25-26). The drive to hide in poetry must be related to some difficulty in facing directly, or even conceiving, what preoccupies his emotional life, the poet thus exemplifying D. W. Winnicott's sense of the artist's "urgent need to communicate and ... still more urgent need not to be found" (in Phillips 151 ; cf. Freud's remark that Goethe "was not only, as a poet, a great self-revealer, but also, in spite of the abundance of autobiographical records, a careful concealer" ["Address" 212 ]).

Reading the poems chronologically, one senses that the better Keats writes, the more he realizes or intuits the depressive inability of his writing to right the void it would fill. The contradictions become better coordinated because they are more articulated, but the hole widens.(3) For all the rhetoric of disinterestedness, he is so bound up with his feigning that he cannot escape the inevitable reflection of his motive for escape: "the fancy cannot cheat so well / As she is fam'd to do" ("Ode on a Nightingale," 73-74). Always with him will be his receptivity to something that can trigger unresolvable ambivalence. "Or" forms his poetic "ore" and underlies his advice to Shelley to "be more of an artist, and `load every rift' of your subject with ore" (16 Aug. 1820; 2.323). The affecting association and doubled "or" of "Forlorn! the very word" reveals the rift, breaking the "fine spell of words" of "Ode to a Nightingale" and, like the "passing-bell"'s evocation of death, "tolls" or unsouls the speaker to a "sole self" itself so ambivalent as not to know it if wakes or sleeps. One option, then, in the words of Hyperion just before it breaks off, is to "Die into life" (3.130)--a possibility that anticipates Keats's concluding speculation, recorded by Joseph Severn less than two months before the poet's death, that "were he to recover he could not write another line" (Rollins, Keats Circle, 1.85 ). In this context the "Ode on Melancholy"--the final destination of this essay--offers the starkest picture of the dynamic that looms behind the odes.

Keats's celebrated letters are, to be sure, sometimes put forward to exemplify candor and true feeling--to show, as Lionel Trilling imagines, "The Poet as Hero." But Trilling's "last image of health" in European culture can pick disturbing scripts--like the passage from William Hazlitt on Godwin's St. Leon that Keats transcribed for his brother. Lest any suspect self-reference, he prefaced his quotation by stating that it was selected "only on account of its being a specimen" of Hazlitt's style. But given an author never "free from speculating" (27 Oct. 1818; 1.387), who claims not to feel "the influence of a Passion or Affection during a whole week" (22 Nov. 1817; 1.186), who lives an "abstract careless and restless Life" (14 Oct. 1818; 1.391), and whose brother with expectant wife is off in the woody solitude of Kentucky, this choice gives pause:

He says of St. Leon "He is a limb torn off from Society. In possession of eternal youth and beauty, he can feel no love; surrounded, tantalized and tormented with riches, he can do no good. The faces of men pass before him as in a speculum; but he is attached to them by no common tie of sympathy or suffering. He is thrown back into himself and his own thoughts. He lives in the solitude of his own breast,--without wife or child or friend or Enemy in the world. His is the solitude of the Soul, not of woods, or trees or mountains--but the desert of society--the waste and oblivi[on] of the heart. He is himself alone. His existence is purely intellectual, and is therefore intolerable to one who has felt the rapture of affection or the anguish of woe." (2 Jan. 1819; 2.24-25).

This description well suits one, like Keats, familiar with "the feel of not to feel it" ("In drear nighted December," 21), with "sensations ... deadened for weeks together" (13 Jul. 1818; 1.325), and with "continual `agonie ennuiyeuse'" (10 Jan. 1819; 2.32)--one, that is, who exhibited the paralyzing, depressive ambivalence of unresolvable deep-seated conflicts. Such psychological disturbance perhaps forced Keats to be, like the clergymen he hated, "continually acting" (19 Feb. 1819; 2.63). At least, despite the idea of their sincerity, one may sometimes read in the letters an obsessively scripted self-presentation and audience manipulation, at moments too cute by half: "Good bye I've an appoantment--can't stop pon word--good bye--now dont get up--open the door myself--go-o-o d bye--see ye Monday" (1 May 1819; 2.57). One feels him acting as he told the brother and sister-in-law who had abandoned him and dying Tom ("who looks upon me as his only comfort") not to feel sorry, since he keeps himself cheerful for their sakes (14 Oct. 1818; 1.391), or when he scripted out in narcissistic detail the process of their reading his letter (20 Sept. 1819; 2.205-6). Little wonder all the effort at epistolary control and anticipation should end with the exertion becoming "so irksome" that "a great aversion to letter writing ... grows more and more upon me" (24 Aug. 1819; 2.147; 3 Oct. 1819; 2.219).

The power and centrality of ambivalence in Keats is exemplified and thematized in the apostrophe that opens the second book of Endymion:

O sovereign power of love! O grief! O balm!
All records, saving thine, come cool, and calm,
And shadowy, through the mist of passed years:
For others, good or bad, hatred and tears
Have become indolent; but touching thine,
One sigh doth echo, one poor sob doth pine,
One kiss brings honey-dew from buried days.

The conflicting evaluations of love as grief and as balm point to an unresolved ambivalence about the identity of the object, "love," hence its significance and existence for the subject (cf. 2.773: "O bliss! O pain!"). Such a split itself occasions mist in and out of the missed past--the divided subject's present--and all its "cloudy phantasms" (E 4.651), "thousand images" (16 Aug. 1819; 2.140), "Shapes, and Shadows and Remembrances" ("Dear Reynolds", above). More particularly, the split expresses itself in contradictory signs, like the "sigh" that earlier in Endymion "grief itself embalms" (1.402) or the indirect allusion of the "honey-dew" that summons up Coleridge's "Kubla Khan" and its less-censored double, the "milk of paradise" (Keats's "sovereign power of love" is manifest after seven hundred lines as the "tenderest, milky sovereignties" on the "known Unknown" body of Endymion's "soft embrace" [2.759, 739, 756]). And the image of the honey-dewed "buried days" must contend with the later "tombs / Of buried griefs the spirit sees, but scarce / One hour doth linger weeping, for the pierce / Of new-born woe it feels more inly smart" (4.516-19). The "grievous feud" reflected by such conceptions constantly generates new ones; the "native hell" of the buried griefs, for instance, transforms into the "Cave of Quietude," a new synthesis attempting to regain a fix on at least static depression--here "woe-hurricanes" beat at the gate, "yet all is still [`continuing' as well as `quiet'] within and desolate" (4.547, 523, 548, 527-28). One curious line of association of the many that are Endymion suggests what sudden access to this still-existing cave is like:

Just when the sufferer begins to burn,
Then it is free to him; and from an urn,
Still fed by melting ice, he takes a draught--
Young Semele such richness never quaft
In her maternal longing! Happy gloom!
Dark paradise!

                                            (4.533-38)

When six months pregnant by Zeus, Semele was tricked into gaining and insisting on her lover's promise to appear to her in all his glory, and as a result not only began to burn but suffered complete incineration; one would, however, be hard pressed to describe her legendary, misguided desire as "maternal longing." Keats could, of course, on his own be supplying her with feelings toward getting pregnant, or toward her fetus (rescued from her consummation to become Dionysus/Bacchus), but one might also imagine a dynamic in which Keats's imagination, caught up with its own "maternal longing" as the burning cause of suffering, jumped to "young Semele" as the antitype of a good-enough mother: one whose pursuit of fancy deprives her child by her resulting death. The earlier refrain "`we follow Bacchus!'" (4.222, 235), indicates the narrator's allegiance to Semele's infant, and Keats's mother's "inordinate Appetites" were the subject of at least some contemporary speculation.(4)

Maternal longing and its consequent "hyp" or low spirits pervade the world of Keats's words, perhaps most evidently in the cavernous hollows of the two Hyperion fragments. There, "in the shady sadness of a vale," the narrator struggles to say good-bye ("Aeternumque vale," in the Virgil Keats translated) to obsessive mourning, although he remains "far sunken from the healthy breath of morn" (H 1.1, 2) in "that sad place / Where Cebele and the bruised Titans mourn'd" (H 2.3-4), "ending in mist / Of nothing" (FH 1.84-85). Some sort of resolution appears through the vision of Moneta in The Fall of Hyperion, but even there, after he hears words "as near as an immortal's ... Could to a mother's soften" and sees "that face," the narrator finds his consolation "like the mild moon, / Who comforts those she sees not" (1.249-50, 263, 269-70). That neither poetic effort with Hyperion was completed stands as a final, negative, comment on the narrator's pose that "poesy" with "the fine spell of words" can save "imagination" from "dumb enchantment" or that he has been "well nurtured in his mother tongue" (FH 1.9, 10, 11, 14-15). So, just as the hymn to Venus in Endymion breaks off after the words "`And by thy Mother's lips--'" and is "heard no more" (3.990), the last word on the two Hyperions is mum. The double associations in the word are suggested when Keats wrote, "And yet does not the word mum! go for ones finger beside the nose--I hope it does. I have to make use of the word Mum! before I tell you that Severn has got a little Baby--all his own let us hope--" (20 Sept. 1819; 2.205). Only if the mum is all Severn's own could Severn hope the same for his child--evidently there are other alternatives, but one must keep mum (to keep Mum). Keats's fealty to the real mum took him from the "realms of gold" to the knowledge of "sunk realms" (FH 68) and of the way the frozen figure of melancholy Saturn sat "when he had lost his realms" (302), his "realmless eyes" closed as he seemed "listening to the Earth, / His antient mother, for some comfort yet" (324-26). "I fear there is no one can give me any comfort," wrote Keats in one of his last letters (1 Nov. 1820; 2.352).

A sense of déjà vu, replacing Mum, haunts Keats's poetry and appears in one of his very early poems, written--he told a friend--after briefly catching sight of an unknown woman at the Vauxhall pleasure gardens (Allott 6 ). Here the speaker seeks "some drug" or "a draught ... from Lethe's waves" to banish from his mind "the image of the fairest form" that ever his "wand'ring fancy spell'd." But, he laments,

'Tis vain--away I cannot chace
The melting softness of that face--
The beaminess of those bright eyes--
That breast, earth's only paradise!

           ("Fill for me a brimming bowl" 13-16)

The hyperbole--especially regarding the unknown breast--asks us to cast about for some more familiar referent, as does the easy (melting) transition from "that face" and its pair-of-eyes to "that breast" and its paradise. One possible repetition prompting the image goes back to the archaic depths of the nursing infant's equation of face and breast, eye and nipple that we have already noted in chapter 2. The speaker concludes with the fantasy that "had she but known how beat my heart" and smiled, he would have "felt `the joy of grief'!" But exiled from her bosom he feels like someone in the snow of (e.g., mother's) "Lapland" whose unknown "she" is to be hailed as "the halo of my memory" (thus a version of the moon that is responsible for the other three halos in Keats's verse).

Almost from the beginning Keats puts the moon in a special relation to those who mourn and moan and seek comfort. "To Hope," for example, repeats the "bright eyes" of his Vauxhall vision as it asks Hope to "Peep with the moon-beams through the leafy roof" and ward off "the fiend Despondence":

Whene'er the fate of those I hold most dear
Tells to my fearful breast a tale of sorrow,
O bright-eyed Hope, my morbid fancy cheer;
Let me awhile thy sweetest comforts borrow:
Thy heaven-born radiance around me shed,
And wave thy silver pinions o'er my head!
   (19-24)

And the smile missed at Vauxhall was evidently later compensated by the moon, as Endymion, in Keats's story of his moony love, asks

What is there in thee, Moon! that thou shouldst move
My heart so potently? When yet a child
I oft have dried my tears when thou hast smil'd.
Thou seem'dst my sister ...
                      (3.142-45).

Indeed, Keats became a poet so that he could continue talking to the moon, that "maker of sweet poets, dear delight" ("I stood tip-toe" 116), which he can imagine "waxing warm / To hear what I shall say" ("'Tis the `witching time of night,'" 9-10) and addresses as

Lover of loneliness, and wandering,
Of upcast eye, and tender pondering!
Thee must I praise above all other glories
That smile us on to tell delightful stories

                        ("I stood tip-toe" 121-24)

The isolation of the moon images the poet's sense of himself as a solitary being: "the moon in ether, all alone" ("Calidore" 157), "most meek and most alone" (E 3.46). The rhyming linkages of "alone"/"moan" ("Isabella," 236, 238), "alone"/"boon" (Lamia 1.110-111), and "boon"/"moon" (E 1.13-14) suggest not only that being alone is a lunar experience, but also that "the moon / The passion poesy" (E 1.28-29) is the lonely one's boon, a melodious form of moan. To complicate matters further, the moon reflects aspects of an idealized (or phantasized) maternal figure: "--the Moon is now shining full and brilliant--she is the same to me in Matter, what you are to me in Spirit--If you were here my dear Sister[-in-law] I could not pronounce the words which I can write to you from a distance: I have a tenderness for you and an admiration which I feel to be as great and more chaste than I can have for any woman in the world" (14 Oct. 1818; 1.392). Of a self-assured young woman--"a Charmian"--encountered at a party, he wrote with characteristic verbal two-step, "I dont cry to take the moon home with me in my Pocket not [i.e., nor] do I fret to leave her behind me. I like her and her like because one has no sensations--" (14 Oct. 1818; 1.395). "O Moon!" (E 3.52, 54, 68) can thus suggest an invocation of "ooman" (a dialectical form of woman, also in Shakespeare, which Keats twice uses in a letter [24 Jan. 1819; 2.35]); at any rate, argues Endymion, "Thou wast the charm of woman, lovely Moon!" (3.169).

As "the charm of woman," the moon presents a singular image of the mammae that so fascinated Keats (like the other popular euphemism, beauties, charm is usually plural--but Erasmus Darwin's 1803 The Temple of Nature imagines the "hundred breasts" of Nature unveiled "Charm after charm, succession bright" (1.170 ), and Keats's Alpheus longs to "warm / Between [Arethusa's] kissing breasts, and every charm / Touch raptur'd!" [E 2.946-48]). When the moon goddess Cynthia relocates a desolate Endymion, she "sooth'd her light / Against his pallid face: he felt the charm / To breathlessness"; he lays his head down "to taste the gentle moon" (E 3.104-6, 110), like, one supposes, the clouds which "suck their fill of light" in The Fall of Hyperion (1.421). Shortly afterwards Endymion tells this "gentle Orb!" (recalling Darwin's "velvet orbs" and "pearly orbs") how he "prest / Nature's soft pillow in a wakeful rest" (3.173-74), a description anticipating the lover's desire in "Bright star..." to be "Pillow'd upon my fair love's ripening breast, / To feel for ever its soft swell and fall, / Awake for ever in a sweet unrest ..." (10-12). This charged association of breast and moon colors Porphyro's titillating vision of "the wintry moon" throwing "warm gules on Madeline's fair breast" ("Eve" 217-18)--"gules" ostensibly denoting the tint from heraldic red bars in the stained window (a physical impossibility in moonlight), but touching as well the phantasy of a "thirsty gule" or throat, gullet (OED, s.v. gule 1750).

Such archaic and regressive phantasy appears explicitly in Glaucus's account of his first days with a new love: "She took me like a child of suckling time, / And cradled me with roses" (E 3.456-57). One morning, however, evidently seeking the "creamy breast" ("Woman! when I behold thee" 16) or "breasts of cream" ("To Charles Cowden Clarke," 34), Glaucus sought "to slake / My greedy thirst with nectarous camel-draughts; / But she was gone" (E 3.478-80). Endymion also invokes such precious nourishment when he swears by the "tenderest, milky sovereignties-- / These tenderest, and by the nectar-wine" (2.759-60), and both images gloss Keats's own investment in "nectarine-sucking" (28 Aug. 1819; 2.149):

--Talking of Pleasure, this moment I was writing with one hand, and with the other holding to my Mouth a Nectarine--good god how fine--It went down soft pulpy, slushy, oozy--all its delicious embonpoint melted down my throat like a large beatified strawberry. I shall certainly breed. (22 Sept. 1819; 2.179).

An even more satisfying feed or phantasy looms behind the narrator's report that Endymion "had swoon'd / Drunken from pleasure's nipple; and his love / Henceforth was dove-like" (2.868-70)--like the "dove-like breast."

As for Glaucus, whose mourning begins with deprivation, after witnessing secretly his beloved's identity-altering power and realizing that she is the merciless witch Circe (E 3.554, 567), he flees. But on the third day she stands before him, and with scornful curse mocks his self-enthralling breast phantasy:

Ha! ha! Sir Dainty! there must be a nurse
Made of rose leaves and thistledown, express,
To cradle thee, my sweet, and lull thee: yes,
I am too flinty hard for thy nice touch
       (3.570-73)

The awkward reference in "Isabella" to the lady's breasts as "those dainties made to still an infant's cries" (374) can help explain the epithet "Sir Dainty." Circe's curse continues, promising, with heavy irony, that Glaucus "shall still [his] cries / Upon some breast more lily-feminine" (3.576-77), an apparently negative image to be kept in mind when the moon goddess, the good witch Cynthia, promises Endymion command of "our sad fate" and swears "by the lily truth / Of my own breast" (4.980-81). The contrast between, as it were, good and bad breasts figures explicitly in book 2 of Endymion, where a nymph ("uprisen to the breast," not surprisingly) tells the protagonist that he must wander "past the scanty bar / To mortal steps" before he can be taken "into the gentle bosom of thy love" (2.98, 123-24, 127).

Here one might invoke again Melanie Klein's ideas concerning the nursing infant's splitting of the mother into a good, available, nourishing breast and a bad, absent or frustrating one.(5) These "objects" are drunk up by the mind or "introjected" to become almost ontological feelings of happy reassurance or of persecuting, destructive anxiety. With time (i.e., months) the infant sees that these good and bad qualities are in fact related to a single (external, physical) object, but though this realization represents a necessary step toward integration and identity, the bounce-back or projection of the phantasized, split qualities onto the single object establishes ambivalence within the subject. With this ambivalence comes depression, for the subject imagines that past negative feelings and aggressive anger against the "bad" breast are responsible for impairment or emptying of the--as now perceived--only breast (mother) there evidently is, and hence at fault for the subject's own insecure, hungry identity. "Love and hunger," Freud remarks, "meet at a woman's breast" (Interpretation 238 ). An ongoing concern with ingestion--feeding, tasting, drinking--marks one possible response to such lack, and this Keats shows to excess, as in the phantasized teat that at one point figured in Lamia's banquet scene--"saith Glutton `Mum' / Then makes his shiny mouth a napkin for his thumb" (5 Sept. 1819; 2.159)--or in the "jellies soother than the creamy curd" and myriad other cloying "dainties" Porphyro collects for Madeline ("The Eve of St. Agnes" 266, 269). Words themselves, in their sensuous, sonorous, mouth- and eye-filling materiality, can be as much the object of the poet's consuming as the phantasies constructed with them--the word moon's two orbs, for instance (oo), graphically overdetermine its association with the female bosom. But given inadequately resolved ambivalence, ingestion turns into wasting consumption:

                      'Tis the pest
Of love, that fairest joys give most unrest;
That things of delicate and tenderest worth
Are swallow'd all, and made a seared dearth,
By one consuming flame: it doth immerse
And suffocate true blessings in a curse.

                                                       (E 2.365-70).

The one poem addressed "To Fanny," coming amid associated evocations of the beloved's "softer breast," "dazzling breast," "warm, white, lucent, million-pleasured breast" ("The day is gone" 2; "What can I do...," 49; "I cry your mercy" 8), expresses similar anxieties as it expands the meaning of Fanny: "Who now, with greedy looks, eats up my feast? / What stare outfaces now my silver moon!" (17-18).(6)

Deep seated ambivalence disrupts the achievement of identity, in part because the option of regression to the familiar, still more schizoid position is so available--"in passions of tears or outrageous fits of laughter always in extremes," one schoolfellow described Keats (Bate, Keats 17 ). And Keats at twenty-two reported, "I carry all matters to an extreme--so that when I have any little vexation it grows in five Minutes into a theme for Sophocles--then and in that temper if I write to any friend I have so little self-possession that I give him matter for grieving at the very time perhaps when I am laughing at a Pun" (18 Jul. 1818; 1.340). Perhaps because he is primed by his coming mention of "a Pun," Keats at this moment for once writes correctly the word that, Gittings tells us, "he almost invariably wrote `perpaps'" (Gittings, Letters, xxi ). As the sign of mastery over ambivalence by the articulating of it in one word, a pun seems here to represent escape from vexation and extremes. In any event, an author "especially liable to puns and to portmanteaux" (Ricks Keats 69 ) and also dazzled, like Keats, by teats, is not likely to glom onto the word identity for its philosophical heritage alone. A poet "has no identity" runs his oft-cited argument of 27 October 1818, though later in the same letter and in others of that time Keats worried over how the "identity of every one" has begun--in a repeated description-- to "press upon" him (27 Oct. 1818, 1.387; 21 Sept. 1818, 1.368-69; 14 Oct. 1818, 1.392; 17 Mar. 1819, 2.77). Half a year later, in the context of imagining the world as "the vale of Soul-making," identity had become a positive good, and its pressing association emerges in his description of the heart as "the teat from which the Mind or Intelligence sucks its identity" (21 Apr. 1819, 2.103; see also H 1.123-24, where "bosom" equals "identity").

As if to compensate for the identity difficulties he raises, Keats concludes the letter of 27 October 1818 by invoking "the mere yearning and fondness I have for the Beautiful" (1.388), reaffirming his description, three days before, of "the yearning Passion I have for the beautiful" (1.404). Earlier, giving full vent to his abstract speculation, he argues jejunely that "with a great poet the sense of Beauty overcomes every other consideration or rather obliterates all consideration" (27 Dec. 1817; 1.194). In effect, he identifies beauty and the breast, as in the ego-obliterating response to "A dove-like bosom. In truth there is no freeing / One's thoughts from such a beauty" ("Woman! when I behold thee...," 34-35), from which one might infer, given that "What the imagination seizes as Beauty must be truth" (22 Nov. 1817; 1.187), that a beautiful titty is truth.(7) Such beautiful preoccupation earns Keats Aubrey de Vere's 1849 judgment that, while "Shelley admired the beautiful, Keats was absorbed in it; and admired it no more than an infant admires the mother at whose breast he feeds" (in Ricks, Keats 102 )--and yearned after it, one might add, no more than the psyche denied adequate nurture (hence, "I have no nature" [27 Oct. 1818; 1.387]). Here one might recall Erasmus Darwin's associationalist argument in The Temple of Nature (1803) that the infant learns "IDEAL BEAUTY from its Mother's breast" and that in later life when one sees forms with "the nice curves, which swell the female breast"--forms such as "the smooth surface of Etrurian urns"--the originating association is revived, "In lively trains of unextinct delight," and

Fond Fancy's eye recalls the form divine,
And TASTE sits smiling upon Beauty's shrine.

                      (3.176, 216, 214, 219, 221-22 )

And according to Robert Burton, in The Anatomy of Melancholy, "Beauty alone is a sovereign remedy against fear, grief, and all melancholy fits" (2.2.6.4, 2.120 ).

But given an inability to realize a confident relation with the good breast (or internalized self-image) as opposed to the bad, the idealized abstraction of Beauty becomes itself contaminated with ambivalence. "A thing of beauty is a joy for ever," runs the memorable first line of Endymion, and by the end of the stanza it is associated with the beautiful bounty of "an endless fountain of immortal drink" (1.23). Beauty can, however, be "drunk ... up" (Lamia 1.251) and "swallow'd all" (E 2.368); hence the conclusion of Endymion's second stanza already addresses underlying anxiety about the essences of beauty: "They alway must be with us, or we die" (1.33). For the reality of loss will out, as in the déjà vu the speaker experiences in "On Visiting the Tomb of Burns," where the churchyard locale, down to the last detail of its "rounded hills," seems "Though beautiful, cold--strange--as in a dream / I dreamed long ago" (3-4). Keats--who early on fantasized at length about standing "tip-toe on a little hill"--knew that some rounded hills were called "paps" (as at Lamia 1.176 before revision by Woodhouse). The "rounded hills" of the dream's vision that "all is cold beauty" (8) might thus adjoin the psychic geography and mammary-memory behind "The latest dream I ever dream'd / On the cold hill's side" in "La Belle Dame sans Merci."(8) The "full beautiful" dame has for some time been labeled a "bad-breast mother" (Williams ), and as a bewitching beldam or "death-pale" "mother Cybele" (E 2.642, 640) she certainly does seem, like Circe with Glaucus, to work some terrible and unexpected deprivation on her knight-at-/babe-in-arms and his "death pale" (38) peers. As often in Keats, the poem turns on ambivalence, in this instance most dramatically in the unsure assurance of "And sure in language strange she said-- / I love thee true" (27-28). Similarly in "Isabella," when the eidolon of the beloved appears, "Strange sound it was, when the pale shadow spake" (281).

The strange language of "La Belle Dame sans Merci" centers on its neologism gloam, a back-formation from gloaming, or twilight: "I saw their starv'd lips in the gloam" (41). One might however see the word as an attempt to censor (through the secondary revision of a g) a dream vision of starved lips in the loam, as in "Isabella"'s graphic picture of the beloved's buried body "loamed" and, again, with "smeared loam" (279, 405). That poem also offers the rationale for "loitering." The knight's presenting symptom is his solitary "loitering" on the cold hill's side, and he in effect gives most of "La Belle Dame" as his explanation; "Isabella" offers, more impartially, the image of one who has

... loiter'd in a green church-yard,
And let his spirit, like a demon-mole,
Work through the clayey soil and gravel hard,
To see scull, coffin'd bones, and funeral stole;
Pitying each form that hungry Death hath marr'd,
And filling it once more with human soul
   (353-58)

Speculations like these underlie Keats's various scenes of reanimation in which the dead "each their old love found," or where dear friends wonder at the recovery of the "languid sick" and "feel their arms, and breasts, and kiss and stare" (E 3.824; "I stood tip-toe" 229).

Such wish fulfillments help account for the "high commission" of "Fancy," which can restore "beauties that the earth hath lost" ("Fancy," 30). Recalling the moon's "completed form of all completeness," with "a paradise of lips and eyes" and "faintest sighs," Endymion says that

... when I think thereon, my spirit clings
And plays about its fancy, till the stings
Of human neighbourhood envenom all.
Unto what awful power shall I call?
To what high fane?
       (1.620-24)

"Ah! see her hovering feet," he continues directly after the caesura, offering a momentary feminine personification of the "fane" as the "awful power". In the unfinished book 3 of Hyperion the "awful Goddess," "ancient Power," "supreme shape" appears to a dimly recollecting Apollo as Mnemosyne, soliciting him to explain his griefs and asserting that she has watched over him since his infancy. Apollo's complaint of numbing melancholy and mourning inability to know "wherefore I am so sad" (3.88) offers a kind of last resistance before the acknowledgment of "beauty that must die" ("Ode on Melancholy") in the great odes. In the "Ode to Psyche," the speaker proposes to be Psyche's "priest, and build a fane" that will be dressed "with all the gardener Fancy e'er could feign" (50, 62). His punning structure will have "branched thoughts ... / Instead of pines"--that is, thoughts instead of pining desires, and these, "new grown with pleasant pain," shall "murmur" not groan anew; but ambivalence triumphs as one sees that the "happy happy dove" for whom he will "make a moan" (22, 44) is also, shifting odes, "mournful Psyche" ("Ode on Melancholy" 7).

Psyche's "fane" leads to the images of temple, altar, and sacrifice, and to the drive for psychic at-one-ment or identity that occasions them. Ideal poesy is itself a temple, like the "living fane of sounds" to be found in Milton ("Lines on Seeing a Lock of Milton's Hair," 12 [early draft]) and contrasted with the author's own "burnt sacrifice of verse / And melody" (9-10). But Keats's classic picture of "the sacrifice" includes, as in "Ode on a Grecian Urn," an "altar," the "mysterious priest," and "that heifer lowing at the skies." These projections first appear in the verse epistle to Reynolds and its recollection of a landscape of Claude's in which

The sacrifice goes on; the pontif knife
Gleams in the sun, the milk-white heifer lows,
The pipes go shrilly, the libation flows
     (20-22).

Perhaps the image impresses Keats in part owing to the colloquial use of heifer for woman (stemming from Samson's "ploughed with my heifer" metaphor in Judges 14:18). Another early poem, already quoted for its fixation on the unforgettable beauty of the dove like breast, compares a fair woman not to a heifer but "a milk-white lamb that bleats / For man's protection" ("Woman! when I behold thee" 31-32), and according to a contemporary account, the poet once burst into tears over this image, "`overpowered by the tenderness of his own imagination'" (G. F. Mathew, in Gittings Keats 46 ). As for the heifer's characteristic sound, in Keats "to low" is also to "sound mournfully" and "moan" ("Isabella" 445, 441). These indications of investment with the sacrificial victim are furthered by their dramatic reversal at the end of Otho the Great where the lover, bemoaning his faithless bride and that "the extremest beauty of the world / Should so entrench herself away from me," announces

She is in the temple-stall
Being garnish'd for the sacrifice, and I,
The priest of justice, will immolate her
Upon the altar of wrath!
     (5.5.154-57)

But Auranthe dies on her own, and the lover follows directly, holding his father's hand--his tenuously achieved oedipal identification at the self-destructive cost of "the sacrifice" of beauty acting out again Keats's tragic ambivalence.

Making the sacrificial fane (/Fan[ni]e) poetic includes fashioning some beautiful artifice out of ambiguous marble. On the one hand the heros of Thermopylae are seen "not yet dead, / But in old marbles ever beautiful," but then within the space of ninety lines the hero Endymion is "as dead-still as a marble man, / Frozen in that old tale Arabian" (E 1.318-19, 405-6). The grandeur and decay of some sculpture "Bring round the heart an undescribable feud" ("On seeing the Elgin Marbles" 10), but other cultural monuments suggest that irresoluble ambivalence might end with forgetting oneself "to marble," or, like Niobe, turning to marble, petrified with grief (Milton, "Il Penseroso," 41; Dryden, "Threnodia in Augustalis," 2). It is hard to imagine that Porphyro, the protagonist of "The Eve of St. Agnes," doesn't tag that poem as a "fane / Of liny marble" ("Sleep and Poetry," 363-64)(9) through his name's closeness to porphyry. Right after he awakens his Madeline by playing "La belle dame sans mercy" no less, Porphyro sinks, "pale as smooth-sculptured stone" (297). So does he rejoin "The sculptur'd dead" of the poem's second stanza, "Emprison'd in black, purgatorial rails" of typography with Keats's other "Shapes, and Shadows and Remembrances" seeking release in new-made lines. The marmoreal memorial of the "Grecian Urn" and the "yearning ... for the Beautiful" it inurns similarly breed "marble men and maidens overwrought" and frozen generalizations concerning Art in a frieze that nothing frees.

Responding to the speaker's sense in "Ode to a Nightingale" that he "Lethe-wards had sunk," Melancholy's poet moans (in a tour de force of ode-initiating O's to prime the poem's underlying sorrowful or/ro music):

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;
     (1-4)

"Nightshade"--the former apothecary's apprentice Keats doubtless knew--is another name for "Belladonna" and--as a reader in the midst of Beaumont and Fletcher might have noted--archaic slang for a "night-walker" or prostitute: so much for a retrospective warning to the knight of "La Belle Dame sans Merci." Belladonna's being proscribed as the "ruby grape of Proserpine" glosses the "grape" burst at the poem's climax but also incorporates Keats's paradigm of loss and melancholy, the rape of Proserpine. The speaker continues, urging you to avoid "yew-berries" for your rosary and not to bury yourself in suicidal prayer to Our Lady of Melancholy:

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;
     (5-8)

The would-be priest of the "Ode to Psyche" sees his "happy happy dove" here "mournful" and equated with "the beetle" or "the death-moth" if not the dead moth-er; and the "mysterious priest" of "Ode on a Grecian Urn" can be recalled as a better partner for "your sorrow's mysteries" and mist of tears. Most of the first stanza, then, enjoins against strange possibilities which could apply most probably only to a poet weighing images; but the mention of "your sorrow's mysteries" leads to the curious logic behind the poetic prohibitions:

For shade to shade will come too drowsily,
   And drown the wakeful anguish of the soul.
     (9-10)

The argument seems to run: no, no, don't do yourself in, because your w/akeful anguish will be drowned--and that illogicality doubles with the statement that whatever is to do the drowning will arrive "excessively drowsily." These perplexities might tease one into the more consoling thought that the (night) shades--as Keats could term the spirits of Hades--will awake or "come to" drowsily (as one might expect) and in their reviving quench the sole soul's anguish over its fill of wakes (for the previously departed but now present shades). If Lethe will come to you, no need to go to it.(10)

This relatively happy situation accounts for the contrast announced at the beginning of the second fit:

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;
     (11-14)

Milton's "pleasing fit of melancholy" ("Comus," 546) here becomes more intensely pathological in its sudden onset, yet its occurrence can hardly be unexpected, given its likeness to an English April shower. Such paradoxical oppositions seem melancholy's nature--on the one hand it "fosters" (a potent word for anyone effectively orphaned at age eight) flowers, yet on the other it enshrouds their true parent, the "green hill o'erspread with ... flowers" ("Sleep and Poetry" 77-78). And given that the season is encouraging, one must suspect that, as in Shakespeare's "Venus and Adonis," these "fresh flowers ... droop with grief and hang the head" (665-66)--and that melancholy particularly nourishes all such "droop-headed flowers."

The thought of nurture reflects the underlying hunger now urged to feed itself on flowers:

Then glut thy sorrow on a morning rose,
   Or on the rainbow of the salt sand-wave,
     Or on the wealth of globed peonies;
    (15-17)

The imperative glut marks a pressing need to "feed to repletion," but since glut's preposition on (instead of the usual, incorporative with) offers this sorrow only visual options, one might imagine filling one's sorrow by weeping over images which happen to echo it (morning rose, Or on, Or on). The "morning rose" recalls Keats's early pictures of "the dewy birth / Of morning roses" ("To the Ladies...," 5-6) and "flowers with dew ... yet drooping" ("To Some Ladies...," 13), but a rose mourning the mist-shrouded mystery-morning might droop as well. The sequence of alternative images ("Or ... Or ...") on which to glut reiterates the lack of adequate stable object that occasions melancholy. Wordsworth's rainbow in the sky that "comes and goes" and causes that poet's heart to "leap up" here takes grains of salt unnumbered as Keats joins the "sad waves" of Spenser's Gardin of Proserpina (Faerie Queene 2.7.57) with Shakespeare's "salt-wave ... a quick venue of wit" (Love's Labour's Lost 5.1.57). He must have enjoyed Aristotle's opinion, reported by Burton, that "melancholy men of all others are most witty" (1.3.1.3, 1.401 ).

The third consecutive verse beginning "Or" breaks the parallel construction it would at first indicate in order to introduce a new alternative altogether for the melancholy fit and sorrow-glutting response:

Or if thy mistress some rich anger shows,
   Emprison her soft hand, and let her rave,
     And feed deep, deep upon her peerless eyes.
    (18-20).

The new coordination links "thy mistress" with the "melancholy fit," while the opening syllable of her title links her to the misty weeping cloud and to sorrow's mysteries. Given that Keats elsewhere imagines "the mistress with a shine / Of anger in her eyes" (The Jealousies 66-67) and that the eyes are here fed upon, the adjective for melancholy's anger seems to render her emotion a choice food, one (as the OED says of rich in this sense) particularly "stimulative or nourishing." That the narrator may be thinking not of the mistress's anger but "of the pleasure to be found" in its display (Allott 540) only makes his implied attitude more crucial to his ode--as do the spuriously authoritative injunctions ("emprison," "let her," "feed"), and the disturbing closeness between her rage or rave and his ravening, and the one-way peering upon peerless eyes, and the immediate obsession with es (cf. "easeful Death" in "Ode to a Nightingale"). Striving to know why he is "so sad ... melancholy," Hyperion's Apollo "raves" in "aching ignorance" until he reads in Mnemosyne's "silent face" a "wondrous lesson" the effect of which he compares to that of drinking "bright elixir peerless" (3.88-89, 110, 107, 112, 119). Mistress is of course a richly polysemic word which can denote head of a household, goddess, teacher, concubine, and beloved, but also the "blessed moon" or "sovereign mistress of true melancholy" in Shakespeare's Anthony and Cleopatra (4.9.11), whose light, for Keats's other favorite, Milton, is "peerless" (Paradise Lost 4.608).

Journeying where "beauty dwells," Endymion finds himself with a "moon-beam" in "the deep, deep, water-world" (3.93, 101); now, having experienced "deep, deep" the "eyes of melancholy" that recur in Keats (H 1.70; Lamia 1.84; "Isabella" 433), the later narrator finds that

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 shall taste the sadness of her might,
     And be among her cloudy trophies hung.

"One could not expect a better picture of the `depressive position' than this," comments Stephen Reid ( 411 ), invoking Klein's term for the state, originating in early infancy and persisting in the unconscious, marked by ambivalence and guilt over aggressive impulses toward the ("bad") breast. As before, in Endymion, the good-object "Queen of Beauty" overseeing "panting bosoms bare!" turns out also to be responsible for the "delicious poisoner" whose "venom'd goblet ... we quaff until / We fill" (3.976, 985, 987-88). The blazoned Miltonism, "sovran" (e.g., "sovran Mistress" [PL 9.532]), evokes Peerless Poetry of the sort Keats had already imagined as a "Live temple of sweet noise; ... giving delight" ("Lines on Seeing" 12, 14). In the early, more sensuous tongue of "Sleep and Poetry," he recalls being in

... a poet's house who keeps the keys
Of pleasure's temple. Round about were hung
The glorious features of the bards who sung
In other ages ...
     (354-57)

Now, however, "the very fane, the light of Poesy" (ibid. 276) discloses, still deeper within, a secret altar, the veiled Holy of Melancholies, knowledge of which warrants the speaker's third-person description of his fate as the high priest of Psyche's fanciful mind-sanctuary. Long since he had thought to join the "great Bards" of Milton's melancholy "Il Penseroso" who "have sung ... of Trophies hung" (116-18), and now he finds that in achieving that goal, given his inward subject (and subjection), he has hung himself and become one with the mist. Having worked beyond the "weak" or "mourning" or "feeble tongue" (E 1.128; 4.160; H 1.49) of earlier poems, the speaker's exertion produces that notoriously hard nut or tough tit, "Joy's grape,"(11) to follow the unexpected picture of Joy's ever "Bidding adieu" (a dew such as droops all). Joy's grief [which we might bend to "grafe"; cf. "the joy of grief," above], already inscribed in and rued by the grape "of Proserpine," is in bidding adieu--"all things mourn awhile / At fleeting blisses" ("Think not of it...," 17-18)--and the more strenuously the would-be(e) mouth sucks at Fanc/ny's teat for the burst of joy, the more sadly must its possessor poison himself acknowledging the might of what might have been (the uberous uva(12) turns to a bursting uvula). Helen Vendler's discomfort at the resemblance between "the tongue-burst grape" and "the fed-on eyes" ( 167 ) recalls the still more disturbing phantasy of eyes as nipples, a possibility underscored by the usually double-blooming "globed peonies" which rhyme the eyes and offer the nearest sips for the bee-mouth: melancholy sexuality is infantile not genital, as melancholy poetry well knows. The triangulation of eyes, grapes, and teats can be illustrated by an eighteenth-century image of Erigone (appoached by Bacchus in the form of a cluster or grapes, according to Ovid; fig. 10), or again by Hendrick Goltzius' 1593 penwork "Without Ceres or Bacchus [Venus Freezes]" (fig. 11).

But the "sovran shrine" of Melancholy's ode pales in comparison with the "old sanctuary" Keats discovers in The Fall of Hyperion. Here the saturnine psychic structure behind his temples and contemplations memorializes its internal doom in an "eternal domed monument" of unfathomable extent: "the silent massy range / Of columns north and south, ending in mist / Of nothing" (1.83-85). The space, characteristically, is entered by phantasizing about the maternal body, as the dreamer sees, before a "wreathed doorway, on a mound / Of moss" (1.28-29), a feast that seems the "refuse of a meal / By angel tasted, or our mother Eve" (1.30-31). As often, thought of the mother underground occasions a nod to her in the guise of "Proserpine return'd to her own fields, / Where the white heifers low" (1.37-38). A feeling of "appetite / More yearning than on earth I ever felt" (1.39-40) seems the source of the imaginary plenty, just as "after not long" the dreamer thirsts in order to imbibe his parent; returning also to "Ode on Melancholy" and its "bee-mouth sips," he

           thirsted, for thereby
Stood a cool vessel of transparent juice,
Sipp'd by the wander'd bee, the which I took,
And, pledging all the mortals of the world,
And all the dead whose names are in our lips,
Drank. That full draught is parent of my theme.
     (1.41-46)

As before, when the bursting of Joy's grape turned the poet into one of melancholy's "cloudy trophies," here the full draught brings on a "cloudy swoon" (1.55) which links the dreamer to Endymion's "melancholy thought: O he had swoon'd / Drunken from pleasure's nipple" (2.868-69).

At the "fane" of this vast temple between the temples, Veil'd Melancholy takes the form of a "veiled shadow" (1.140, cf. 194). She is the "`Shade of Memory!'" (1.282) whose name, "Moneta," is overdetermined by Keats's long investment in "mourn," "moon," and "moan"--not to mention teats and eats. The verses in which she first tells her name are described as "Moneta's mourn" (1.231) and the succeeding climactic passage describing her face dwells most on the eyes which "in blank splendor beam'd like the mild moon" (1.269). The "Sole priestess" of Saturn's desolation, she falls silent "a whole moon" (1.392) so that her idol's "Strange musings" are duly emphasized. And the word which saturates Saturn's lament is moan. That speech seems, according to the dreamer, like one of "some old man of the earth / Bewailing earthly loss"; but he then proceeds to remark its form as if on behalf of the author:

               nor could my eyes
And ears act with that pleasant union of sense
Which marries sweet sound with the grace of form,
And dolorous accent from a tragic harp
With large limb'd visions.
    (1.441-45)

The fanciful feigning of a nourishing, self-generated "poesy" that would "sooth the cares, and lift the thoughts of man" ("Sleep and Poetry," 247) ends in the unassimilable burden of "Moan, brethren, moan," "Moan and wail. / Moan, brethren, moan," "Moan, moan, / Moan, Cybele, moan," "Moan, brethren, moan," "Moan, moan" (1.412, 417-18, 424-25, 427, 430).

For Keats, "perpaps," the inmost fane of poesy is hidden, with him, without it.



Notes to Chapter 5



1. Keats's letters are cited from Rollins, ed., Letters , by date; volume, page--here 24 Sept. 1819; 2.214.

2. See also Hamilton for the argument "that poetry represented for Keats an attempt to work through the mourning process" (497).

3. As G. M. Hopkins puts it, "The keener the consciousness, the greater the pain" ("Meditation on Hell," in Sermons 138 ). For Brink, Keats's "poetry began in conflict, in doubt about readiness for life. It held in aesthetic abeyance forces of disintegration too unsettling to face directly until poetry itself made it impossible to ignore them" (144 ).

4. Keats's publisher John Taylor interviewed the poet's former guardian and reported that Keats's mother "At an early Age ... told my Informant, Mr. Abbey, that she must & would have a Husband; and her passions were so ardent, he said, that it was dangerous to be alone with her" (Rollins, Keats Circle 1.303-5 ). In part from this description of Frances Jennings' "unusual importunity," Brink infers an "obsessional will to dominate in relations with men" that in turn masked underlying insecurity (163 ). The "Fanny-filled" image of woman Keats projected is evident in an early poem which begins:

Woman! when I behold thee flippant, vain,
Inconstant, childish, proud, and full of fancies...

5. The analyst André Green notes that Kleinians now admit that breast is just another way of denominating mother (or primary caretaker). But, he adds,

One must retain the metaphor of the breast, for the breast, like the penis, can only be symbolic. However intense the pleasure of sucking linked to the nipple, or the teat, might be, erogenous pleasure has the power to concentrate within itself everything of the mother that is not the breast: her smell, her skin, her look and the thousand other components that `make up' the mother. The metonymical object has become metaphor to the object. (148 )

6. Though it appears long after Keats, one might note the use of the term "to moon" to describe the prank of displaying the naked posterior or "fanny." As a euphemism for the buttocks, "fanny" seems a twentieth-century Americanism--English, however, has "fan" (from Fr. fin) in Shakespeare (see Rubinstein , s.v.). Bertram Lewin speculates that buttocks may replace breasts in phantasy since "the real size of the buttocks, say for a child of two, might coincide very well with the virtual size of the retained memory of the breasts" (179).

7. A reading more in harmony with the shape and form of the urn, and its "Cold Pastoral!" associations of past oral satisfactions, than Kenneth Burke's analysis that "body is turd, turd body" (see 728 , which leaves no doubt as to this hearing of the urn's dictum, "Beauty is truth, truth Beauty).

8. Compare the beginning of the second stanza of "Take those lips away," in Percy's Reliques of Ancient English Poetry, where the forsaken lover regrets "those hills of snowe, / Which thy frozen bosom beares" (122 ).

9. Lewin records a dream which consisted entirely of "a slab of white marble coming toward the dreamer, on which he could see blue veins. Here again the [dream-]screen is hard and inedible, but the blue veins are in all probability additions derived rom observations later than the earliest nursing period" (187).

10. As Sylvia Plath also knows in "All the Dead Dears":

All the long gone darlings: they
Get back, though, soon,
Soon: be it by wakes, weddings,
Childbirths or a family barbecue:
Any touch, taste, tang's
Fit for those outlaws to ride home on,


And to sanctuary...

11. Cf. another of Almansi's patients in the article cited extensively in chapter 2, a woman who dreams of a "Mother- or Wife-of-the-Year" figure pinned with "a corsage of two clusters of dark purple grapes. They hang down from the stem in such a way that one cluster hangs from one breast and the second cluster from the other breast. They look as if they were springing from each nipple, ripe and very full." She continues: "My gaze travels upward and I see her eyes. I am amazed to see that they are very large and of the same rich purple color as the grapes" (51-52 ).

12. Cf. Isidore of Seville's homophonic "etymology": "`Ubera dicta, vel quia lacte uberta, vel quia uvida'" ("ubera comes either from `lacte UBERtA', i.e. `abounding in milk', or from `UvidA' ... that is full of milk as a grape is full of juice") (Lecercle 193 ).