Ode to Indolence

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ODE TO INDOLENCE What is an Ode? An Ode is a poem giving praise to someone or something of importance to you. Historical Background This ode was written in spring 1819, between mid-March and early June. On 19 March Keats wrote of his 'sort of temper indolent' in a letter to his brother George and sister-in-law Georgiana. And on 9 June, he told one Miss Jeffrey that 'the thing I have most enjoyed this year has been writing an ode to Indolence'. The ode was first published in 1848. In the letter to George and Georgiana, Keats described his indolence: 'This is the only happiness; and is a rare instance of advantage in the body overpowering the Mind.' The ode itself is the least well known of the six great odes of 1819. Most critics consider it the least accomplished of the group. The epigraph (a short phrase written as an introduction to part of a poem or book) is from Matthew 6:28. The Poem 'They toil not, neither do they spin.' One morn before me were three figures seen, With bowed necks, and joined hands, side-faced; And one behind the other stepp'd serene, In placid sandals, and in white robes graced: They pass'd, like figures on a marble urn, When shifted round to see the other side; They came again; as when the urn once more Is shifted round, the first seen shades return; And they were strange to me, as may betide With vases, to one deep in Phidian lore. How is it, shadows, that I knew ye not? How came ye muffled in so hush a masque? Was it a silent deep-disguised plot to steal away, and leave without a task My idle days? Ripe was the drowsy hour; The blissful cloud of summer-indolence Benumb’d my

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