John Keats, like Coleridge, wrote an ode on dejection, entitled "Ode on Melancholy" (1820). Unlike Coleridge, Keats does not situate himself as the actual subject, nor does he present himself within the poem. The subjects of the poem are allegorical personifications, such as Melancholy, Joy, and Beauty. Keats writes about the inevitable passing of beauty and joy, for melancholy necessarily comes out of the transience of pleasure, and pleasure is a momentary absence of melancholy. Pleasure and melancholy exist in the same giving and taking cycle that Coleridge draws between nature and man. Coleridge, however, claims that perceptions and emotions create nature and the world man lives in and that man can overcome hardships if he has joy, the ideal condition of the mind. Joy has a different meaning in Keats's ode, and is a transient pleasure like any other, "whose hand is ever at his lips/ Bidding adieu" in expectation of its death.
Incorporated in the Victorian Web July 2000