Essay Is A Critical Analysis Of John Keat's Poem "To Sleep," Using College Level Literary Terms.

880 words - 4 pages

In John Keats's poem "To Sleep" the construction of the poem works to enhance the reader's interpretation. The poem dwells within a sonnet form, extolling all the virtues of "sleep." Falling within the general bounds of the sonnet, the poem is the obligatory fourteen lines of iambic pentameter coupled with an elaborate rhyme scheme. Although most closely resembling the English sonnet, the deliberate wanderings of the poem from this strict sonnet form merely serve to enhance the meaning of the poem.Within the first two quatrains of the poem "sleep" is personified to be an "embalmer of the still midnight," closing our eyes and offering a "forgetfulness divine." The voice of the poem speaks to "sleep," referring to his words as "thine hymn," and offering himself to "sleep" when it should choose. The rhyme scheme of these two quatrains follows the Shakespearian sonnet form, and does not deviate from the iambic pentameter. This lends the poem a natural tone and the voice of the poem appears to be speaking in a quite ordinary manner. The words at the end of each line not only follow the rhyme scheme but serve a dual purpose, furthering the relationship between the form of the poem and the reader's interpretation. "Midnight," "benign," "light," and "divine," these four closing words of the first four lines establish an impression of the voice of the poem's position upon "sleep." This allows the reader to better understand the references to "hymn" and "Amen" in the second quatrain.Although the majority of the lines within these two quatrains are end-stopped, in line 5 the voice of the poem becomes more emotional, and beseeches "sleep" to do as it will. The voice exclaims "O soothest sleep!," striking the reader to take notice that the line spills over in enjambment into the next, unable to contain the awe of "sleep" within a single line. Line 7 also spills over into the next line, swelling the passionate intensity of the quatrain. The sudden strong emotion of the second quatrain is furthered by the diction, calling the words of the voice a "hymn" and bidding "sleep" to take the voice of the poem "in midst of this thine hymn" or to "wait the Amen" before doing so.The first two quatrains of Keats's poem follow the English sonnet form. However, upon reaching the end of these two quatrains, a couplet appears, which according to the English sonnet form, traditionally appears at the end of the poem. This variation in the English sonnet form indicates a change in the poem. The rhyme scheme of this couplet rhymes with some of the words in both of the first...

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