As/Is







6.16.2015


Keats and the Reader-as-Ingenue


Keats clearly meant the Odes to be a rite of passage for his readers; a marriage or consummation of some sort. Because Keats makes a fetish of Eros and Psyche, and the sense Psyche has of being (before Eros) a virgin or ingenue, one subtext I derive from the odal experience is that Keats' prosodic genius is meant to "deflower" the consciousness of his readers, de-virginize it into a more suitably experienced-in-aesthetic-euphoria form. As with Shelley and Adonais, the perceived androgyny of the Odal scribe, the admixture of male and female elements which have sharpened and refined his Odal vision into cohesive form, are to be met by the androgyny of his readers, who can both withstand his linguistic thrusts and propel themselves into line with the masculine levels of the melopoeia built into the Odal edifices. The sense of cognitive ravishment works in a chiasmic way here- from us into the prosody, and from the momentary, serendipitous nature of Keats' lyrical genius back to us, as the loops back and forth endlessly replay every time we participate in an inspired reading of the Odes. We become ingenues or Psyches before this mode/manner of formal beauty, and we do so willingly, rewarded in a different way each time so as to suggest a kind of textual eternity channeled through Keats into texts which combine human and celestial essences against the confines of the material, and in a manner more companionable than Shelley tends to be.