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The Theme of Mutability in the "Ode to Psyche"

Leon Waldoff
PMLA
Vol. 92, No. 3 (May, 1977), pp. 410-419
DOI: 10.2307/461704
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/461704
Page Count: 10
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The Theme of Mutability in the "Ode to Psyche"
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Abstract

A sound basis for interpreting the odes as a sequence, with unity of theme and progression of thought, may be found in the theme of mutability. It is generally acknowledged as central in the other odes but has been neglected in discussions of the "Ode to Psyche." Though this theme is dealt with defensively, it is evident in the tone, in the paradoxical conception of Psyche as a dying immortal, in the imaginative effort to restore her presence and rescue her from the "faint Olympians," and in the final act of internalization. As in the other odes, the answer to the problem of mutability lies in an acceptance of the natural process of which man's life is a part and in a will to adapt. Though Keats would make Psyche the presider over his soul, he is aware that in the end he must preside over his own growth and "Soul-making."

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