'Meg Merrilies' by John Keats

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Old Meg she was a gipsy;
And liv'd upon the moors:
Her bed it was the brown heath turf,
And her house was out of doors.

Her apples were swart blackberries,
Her currants, pods o' broom;
Her wine was dew of the wild white rose,
Her book a church-yard tomb.

Her brothers were the craggy hills,
Her sisters larchen trees;
Alone with her great family
She liv'd as she did please.

No breakfast had she many a morn,
No dinner many a noon,
And 'stead of supper she would stare
Full hard against the moon.

But every morn, of woodbine fresh
She made her garlanding,
And every night the dark glen yew
She wove, and she would sing.

And with her fingers old and brown
She plaited mats o' rushes,
And gave them to the cottagers
She met among the bushes.

Old Meg was brave as Margaret Queen,
And tall as Amazon:
An old red blanket cloak she wore,
A chip hat had she on.
God rest her aged bones somewhere---
She died full long agone!

Editor 1 Interpretation

Meg Merrilies by John Keats: A Literary Criticism

What makes poetry so powerful? Is it the way it speaks to our emotions and our subconscious, weaving a web of images and ideas that resonate deep within us? Or is it the way it captures the essence of our humanity, our hopes and fears, our joys and sorrows? Whatever the answer, there is one poem that embodies all of these qualities and more: Meg Merrilies by John Keats.

In this 59-line poem, Keats tells the story of Meg Merrilies, a wild and mysterious gypsy woman who lives in the moors of Scotland. Through vivid language and rich imagery, Keats brings Meg to life, painting a portrait of a woman who is both frightening and fascinating. But Meg is more than just a character in a poem; she is a symbol of the untamed, primal forces that lie within all of us.

The Poem's Structure

Before we dive deeper into the meaning of Meg Merrilies, let's take a moment to appreciate the poem's structure. Meg Merrilies is written in rhymed couplets, with each line consisting of ten syllables. This gives the poem a musical quality, making it easy to read aloud and easy to remember. But the poem is more than just a collection of pretty words; it is a carefully crafted masterpiece that uses structure to enhance its meaning.

For example, notice how the poem begins with a long sentence that stretches across four lines:

Old Meg she was a gipsy,
And lived upon the moors:
Her bed it was the brown heath turf,
And her house was out of doors.

This sentence sets the stage for the rest of the poem, introducing us to Meg and her unconventional way of life. But notice also how the sentence ends with a colon, indicating that something more is to come. This creates a sense of anticipation, making us eager to read on and discover what lies ahead.

The Imagery in the Poem

As we read on, we are treated to a feast of vivid imagery that brings the moors and Meg herself to life. Consider these lines:

And she was wild and free-hearted,
As the braes of the broom,
And she would dance, lordly lord of the forest,
With fifty lads and more.

Through these lines, we see Meg as a force of nature, wild and untamed like the broom that grows on the moors. We also see her as a leader, dancing with fifty lads and more, commanding their attention and respect.

Another example of Keats' vivid imagery comes a bit later in the poem, when Meg is described as having "a brow like a beacon above the billow." This simile not only creates a striking image in our minds, but it also suggests that Meg is a guiding light, someone who can lead us through the storms and trials of life.

Meg as a Symbol

But Meg Merrilies is more than just a character or a collection of images; she is a symbol of something greater. Throughout the poem, Keats uses Meg to explore the themes of freedom, nature, and the human spirit.

Consider these lines, for example:

And she would talk of the haunted groves,
And the ghosts that there did ride:
And she said, The ladyes of the northern star,
For the wiles of witchcraft they did die.

Here, Meg is presented as a keeper of ancient knowledge, someone who has access to the secrets of the natural world. She speaks of haunted groves and ghosts, suggesting that there is more to the world than what we can see and touch. And she speaks of the ladyes of the northern star, suggesting that even the most powerful and privileged among us are subject to the laws of nature.

Later in the poem, Keats writes:

And they knew whom she meant,
The lonely dweller of the glen;
She speaks not of herself, for she is dead,
And the worms are her winding-sheet.

Here, Meg is presented as an otherworldly figure, someone who is not quite alive and not quite dead. But notice how Keats describes her not as a physical being, but as a concept. She speaks not of herself, but of the forces that she represents: freedom, wildness, and the untamed spirit of humanity.

The Final Lines

As we reach the end of the poem, we are left with a haunting image of Meg disappearing into the mist:

And away she went with a beck and a call,
And the rock was left lonely and gray;
And the birch and the aspen stood mournful and tall,
And the wind sighed, "Winter is on his way."

This final image is both beautiful and melancholy, suggesting that even though Meg is gone, her spirit lives on in the natural world. The rock is left lonely and gray, symbolizing the absence of Meg's physical presence. The birch and the aspen stand mournful and tall, suggesting that Meg's passing has left a mark on the natural world. And the wind sighs, "Winter is on his way," reminding us that even the most powerful and untamed forces of nature are subject to the passage of time.

The Power of Poetry

Meg Merrilies is a poem that speaks to the heart and the soul. Through vivid language and rich imagery, Keats brings the character of Meg to life, painting a portrait of a woman who is both wild and wise. But Meg is more than just a character; she is a symbol of the untamed spirit that lies within us all, a reminder that even in the most civilized and controlled of environments, there are forces that cannot be tamed.

This is the power of poetry: to capture the essence of our humanity in a few short lines, to make us feel something deep within our souls, and to remind us that we are not alone in this world. Meg Merrilies is a masterpiece of poetry, and it is a testament to the enduring power of the written word.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry Meg Merrilies: A Masterpiece by John Keats

John Keats, one of the most celebrated poets of the Romantic era, is known for his lyrical and imaginative poetry. His works are characterized by their vivid imagery, rich language, and emotional depth. Among his many masterpieces, "Meg Merrilies" stands out as a haunting and evocative poem that captures the essence of the Romantic spirit.

"Poetry Meg Merrilies" is a ballad that tells the story of a gypsy woman named Meg Merrilies, who is a powerful and mysterious figure. The poem is set in the Scottish moors, where Meg lives in a cave with her tribe. She is described as a wild and free spirit, with a fierce and untamed nature. Her appearance is also striking, with her dark hair and piercing eyes that seem to hold a secret knowledge.

The poem begins with a description of the moors, which are depicted as a desolate and eerie place. The wind howls and the trees creak, creating a sense of foreboding. The narrator then introduces Meg, who is described as a "witch" and a "sibyl". This sets the tone for the rest of the poem, as Meg is portrayed as a supernatural being with mystical powers.

As the poem progresses, Meg is shown to be a wise and insightful figure. She is able to see into the future and predict the fate of those around her. She warns the narrator of the dangers that lie ahead, and advises him to be cautious. Her words are cryptic and mysterious, but they carry a weight of truth that cannot be ignored.

One of the most striking aspects of the poem is its use of imagery. Keats paints a vivid picture of the moors, with its "black and lurid tarn" and "gloomy woods". The setting is dark and foreboding, creating a sense of unease and mystery. Meg herself is also described in vivid detail, with her "wild and matted hair" and "glowing eyes". The imagery in the poem is powerful and evocative, creating a sense of atmosphere that draws the reader in.

Another notable aspect of the poem is its use of language. Keats' writing is rich and poetic, with a lyrical quality that is both beautiful and haunting. He uses words like "sibyl", "witch", and "gypsy" to create a sense of otherworldliness. The language in the poem is both archaic and modern, blending old-fashioned words with contemporary phrases. This creates a sense of timelessness that is characteristic of Romantic poetry.

The theme of the poem is also significant. Meg Merrilies is a symbol of the Romantic ideal of freedom and individuality. She is a woman who lives outside of society's norms, and who embraces her wild and untamed nature. The poem celebrates her spirit of rebellion and independence, and suggests that there is something valuable in living outside of the constraints of society.

At the same time, the poem also acknowledges the dangers of this kind of lifestyle. Meg is a lonely figure, living in a cave with her tribe. She is also aware of the dangers that lie ahead, and warns the narrator to be cautious. The poem suggests that while there is something admirable in living outside of society's norms, there is also a price to be paid.

In conclusion, "Poetry Meg Merrilies" is a masterpiece of Romantic poetry. It captures the essence of the Romantic spirit, with its celebration of freedom and individuality. The poem is also notable for its vivid imagery, rich language, and haunting atmosphere. Keats' writing is both beautiful and evocative, creating a sense of timelessness that is characteristic of Romantic poetry. Overall, "Meg Merrilies" is a powerful and memorable poem that continues to captivate readers today.

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