In the poem “Lamia” Keats uses a considerable amount of description on Lamia. I agree with the statement that Keats seems more interested in describing than narrating. This poem has a large amount of description in it, with a large proportion of description to Lamia. “Lamia” is a long, complex poem. The title character, Lamia, is as strange as the poem itself. Part I of the poem opens with Hermes, messenger of the Gods, in search of a beautiful nymph for whom he has stolen light from Olympus. Keats uses a lot of description in this poem to create different feelings such as sympathy and sometimes to even make a character seem beautiful on the outside but somewhat mystical and sly on the inside. For example, in the beginning of the poem, Keats describes Lamia the snake as a very striking creature “Vermillion spotted, golden, green, and blue.” Here we can see how she is described very beautifully and Keats uses several lines of description on her alone at that point.
In this poem Keats seems to be to some extent, obsessed with Lamia. Even when she is a snake he describes her as a wonderful looking creature:
“Vermilion-spotted, golden, green, and blue;”
This is another example of how Keats seems to be more interested in describing Lamia than narrating. This piece of description alone shows us how beautiful Lamia is. Even though she is a snake which is renowned to be sly she is still described wonderfully. Keats uses a strong description to describe Lamia and maybe to deter readers from the fact that he chose a sly cunning animal to portray Lamia.
I think he does this because he wishes to live out his fantasies and his wild imagination in his poems. This is the only way he would be able to portray his imagination and dreams. We can see that he likes to live out his dreams by looking at the description of the wedding. He has created a wonderful picturesque setting for the wedding and everything in the wedding is luxury. “There ran a stream of lamps straight on from wall to wall.” In this piece of description Keats is describing the walls and how they are covered in lamps. Keats wouldn’t have been able to afford this in his time and this is how he lived out his wishes. We can see by this poem the extent to which Keats uses his imagination to create wonderful settings and astonishing creatures.
Another thing fictional creature he has created is the nymph. He has also made this nymph to be very striking. He may also have done this to bring his fantasies to life in his poems. Since poems can be written about anything at all, Keats found it easy to create the wonderful world he wanted to create in his poem. All based on mythology and fiction.
Although there is masses of description there is narration in the poem which clearly shows the reader what is happening. The large amount of description in this poem makes it easier for us to visualize the surroundings. The words he uses in this poem are very appropriate to the description he creates. For example he uses the word “palpitating” to describe the snake. In this word alone we can hear the snake’s heart beating by listening carefully to the way the word is said as it has so many syllables.
In this poem Lamia is seen as a very magical, enchanting and enigmatic woman. At the end of this poem her true identity is discovered by Apollonius. At this point Keats almost makes us sympathize with Lamia and we begin to feel sorry for her. the end of this poem is a turning point for the readers ambiguous understanding of Lamia. So far we get the impression that Lamia is a sly and selfish woman because of the incident with Hermes and the nymph. It is only towards the end of the poem that Keats starts to use different description to what he was describing her as before.
‘The deep-recessed vision: -all was blight;’
This piece of description shows us how Keats describes her differently to the beautiful descriptions of her at the beginning of the poem. This piece of description almost makes us feel sorry for her again and it makes the readers have a second thought about what Lamia is like and what Lamia really wanted.
In this poem Keats evidently uses much description on Lamia and sometimes to create a sense of sympathy and sorrow for her. Without this description we would not have such strong feelings on Lamia and what we think of her. The large quantity of description allows different readers to express different views on Lamia.