The Eve of St Agnes

  • Plot: The Eve of St Agnes tells a romantic tale of two star-crossed lovers, Madeline and Porphyro, who sneak away together on St Agnes Eve, a night of alleged mystical prophecy.
  • Structure & Language Techniques: The poem utilises the Spenserian stanza, rich with sensual imagery and Gothic tropes, to highlight the tension between spiritual and physical love, and to mirror the progression of the night’s events.
  • Themes & Linking Poems: The poem explores themes of love, spirituality, dream and reality, and social status, linking to Keats’ other works such as “La Belle Dame Sans Merci” and “Ode to a Nightingale,” in their shared exploration of romantic and sensual love, fantastical and mystical elements, and the human condition.
  • Key Quotes: ‘And Madeline asleep in lap of legends old’, representing the melding of the spiritual and mortal realms, and ‘She knelt, so pure a thing, so free from mortal taint’, signifying Porphyro’s obsession with Madeline’s purity and the poem’s recurring theme of physical vs. spiritual love.