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The Eve of St Agnes

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Teaching this fabulous narrative poem to my A Level Lit class and, as happens every time I spend time with it, I find myself wondering about Keats's thoughts on his young lovers. Does he snigger at Madeline's trust in the St Agnes superstition or does he embrace her faith in 'legends old'? Does he think of Porphyro as a young man in absolute love or does he see him as a randy boy on the pull? Of course, I'm simplifying and, of course, the answer to the pair of questions is 'both'. Still, as a bit of fun, what are your thoughts?

By the way, I'm thrilled to have found this community! My love affair with Keats is a long one.

Poll #1276376 Madeline and Porphyro

Madeline

sympathetic romantic
2(66.7%)
silly superstitious girl
0(0.0%)
other (please comment)
1(33.3%)

Porphyro

true love's hero
1(33.3%)
lechy seducer
1(33.3%)
other (please comment)
1(33.3%)
Current Mood:
curious curious
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On October 10th, 2008 09:45 pm (UTC), fambrena commented:
There's no way I could ever make a decision on this question, but I just wanted to express my appreciation for that description of Porphyro---"randy boy on the pull."

You, sir/ma'am/other, have brought the lulz.
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On October 10th, 2008 09:57 pm (UTC), atticus_frog replied:
Always good to be appreciated! How else to describe the boy with the lofty plume and heart in purple riot?

Fab userpic -- I've got a photo of me with arms round the statue.
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On October 11th, 2008 01:28 am (UTC), fambrena replied:
You've touched it! I'm jealous.
Statue question: is it life-size?

I want to visit Guy's SO badly. Not just for Keats---I'm doing my thesis on Romantic medical literature, and Guy's has (obviously) an enormous collection, not to mention the manuscript copies of celebrity physicians' original memoirs, etc...

As for purple riots, this is just more proof that Keats inspired the entire emo movement.
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On October 11th, 2008 06:59 am (UTC), atticus_frog replied:
Re: You've touched it! I'm jealous.
It was rather a magical moment. We approached it from the side and the profile was instantly, heartsurgingly recognisable. I heard they made it life size and, of course, Keats was just over 5' in height. However, the statue is tiny. I wonder if he was really so slight in build. I'm 5' 1" and about 100 lbs and I looked/felt like a behemoth next to him. I'll friend you and if you scroll down to a post called "rambling: balcombe to east grinstead" you'll see a photo of me sitting next to him.

Romantic medical literature! That sounds fascinating. Which authors are you investigating? I almost did my PhD on the anxiety of the Enlightenment influence on the Romantics but switched to Literature of the Asian Diaspora which is a near equal interest.
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On October 11th, 2008 11:44 am (UTC), fambrena replied:
Re: You've touched it! I'm jealous.
Yeah, it looks a little slight to me too---wasn't Keats supposedly leaning in the barrelchested-Englishman direction before he contracted TB?

As for authors, it's a bit broad right now, but I'm trying to work within a span from Abernethy to Cooper, as well as examine some of the quack ephemera that surged in popularity just before the turn of the century.
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On October 11th, 2008 07:56 am (UTC), dothestrand commented:
I studied Keats last year, for my AS exam, and "The Eve of St Agnes" is still one of my favourite poems. :)

I think Madeline and Porphyro are probably somewhere in-between the two extremes. If I had to choose one over the other, I'd probably be inclined to go for sympathetic romantic/true love's hero, just because I find it hard to believe that Keats was really that cynical.

It's difficult, though, so I'd have to think about it and re-read the poem before I could come to a proper conclusion. And even then, I'm not sure I could decide. Still, that's what makes English Literature fun, after all!
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