‘Acrostic: Georgiana Augusta Keats’ by John Keats, as the title of the poem, says itself, is an acrostic poem. Being a riddle in verse, it’s not such mysterious. The poet employs the form for a far greater purpose. For glorifying his sister-in-law Georgiana Augusta Keats in this poem. This form of verse was not new to the history of English literature. Medieval poets and the writers of the Renaissance also used this form in their writings for mentioning their names or glorifying the names of their patrons.
‘Acrostic: Georgiana Augusta Keats’ by John Keats is a poem describing the role of verse as an expression of a poet’s true feelings towards someone. Here the poet is dedicated to the poet’s sister-in-law Georgiana Augusta Keats. She was the wife of his brother George Keats. The couple assisted the ailing poet while he began a walking tour in 1818. The poet presents his thankfulness to her for staying by his side. He seeks inspiration from the Greek God of poetry, Apollo, and the nine muses to assist him to write a verse that can present his true emotions to her. In the end, the poet wishes Georgiana for a better future with his husband George. And refers to his poem as a reminder of the love that will keep the poet, John Keats alive in their happily married life.
‘Acrostic: Georgiana Augusta Keats’ by John Keats is an acrostic poem. As the name of the poet’s sister-in-law is present in the first letter of each line of the poem, it’s an alphabetical acrostic poem. There are a total of 9 letters in the first name of Georgiana Augusta Keats, there are a total of 9 lines in the first stanza of the poem. The following stanzas follow the same line count.
The rhyme scheme of the poem is a regular one and it is AA BB CC. The rhyme scheme goes on like this in the upcoming sections of the poem. The poet uses the rhyme scheme of the closed couplet form to make the lines of the poem more compact in order and also in meaning. As the two lines in a couplet can produce a complete sense, every two lines in the poem are successful in doing so. However, there is a variation in the third line of the last stanza. It rhymes with the last two lines of the previous stanza. It can be understood from the structure of the poem that the poet has to do it for the sake of the rhythmic flow in the poem.
‘Acrostic: Georgiana Augusta Keats’ by John Keats presents several important literary devices to make the poet’s emotions more lively and appealing to the readers. Likewise in the phrase “your golden name”, the poet uses a metaphor. Here the poet compares his sister-in-law’s name to the valuable metal gold. Thereafter the poet uses several allusions as a source of poetic inspiration. He refers to Apollo and the nine muses to help him with his versification. The poet uses another metaphor in the “Realms of the verse”. The poet personifies love and “Brotherhood” in the last line of the first stanza.
There is another allusion to William Shakespeare’s “Othello” and the “Anthropophagi” in the second stanza. He also refers to “Ulysses” as a source of indomitable courage. The reference is made for two purposes; as mental support, while he struggles writing this verse and as physical support for his ailing health. The poet uses an apostrophe in the first line of the third stanza and glorifies her last name “Keats” in this stanza. The poet uses a simile in this line, “And may it taste to you like good old wine”. In the last line, the poet uses a pleasant climax while wishing a better future to his sister-in-law. There is also a simile in this line too.
Analysis, Stanza by Stanza
Give me your patience, sister, while I frame
Exact in capitals your golden name;
Or sue the fair Apollo and he will
Rouse from his heavy slumber and instill
Great love in me for thee and Poesy.
Imagine not that greatest mastery
And kingdom over all the Realms of verse,
Nears more to heaven in aught, than when we nurse
And surety give to love and Brotherhood.
‘Acrostic: Georgiana Augusta Keats’ by John Keats is a poem that tries to eternalize the name “Georgiana Augusta Keats”. She is the poet’s sister-in-law. In the first stanza, the poet addresses her directly and seeks her patience. As in the last stages of his life, he remained restless most of the time for his drooping health. In this stanza, the poet seeks poetic inspiration for writing a verse that would reflect his love and gratitude for Georgiana.
The poet admits his incapacities and tries to convince Georgiana that affection and brotherhood would make his poem close to her heart. He says a poem becomes closer to the heart when it is written with true emotions. Poetry written for worldly fame doesn’t prove fruitful in the long run as it fails to capture heartfelt emotions.
Anthropophagi in Othello’s mood;
Ulysses storm’d and his enchanted belt
Glow with the Muse, but they are never felt
Unbosom’d so and so eternal made,
Such tender incense in their laurel shade
To all the regent sisters of the Nine
As this poor offering to you, sister mine.
In the second stanza of the poem, the poet refers to the characters of Anthropophagi and Ulysses who are famous for their exceptional courage and god-like power. But the poet says, they never felt the surge of true emotions like the poet felt during writing this poem.
At last, the poet says, he knows his writing skill is not that great that can truly reflect his thankfulness to his sister. But his emotions are true and that reflects in each line of the poem. However, the humbleness and close to earth attitude in the poetic persona’s voice make this poem closer to Georgiana’s heart.
Kind sister! aye, this third name says you are;
Enchanted has it been the Lord knows where;
And may it taste to you like good old wine,
Take you to real happiness and give
Sons, daughters and a home like honied hive.
In the last stanza of the poem, the poet specifically focuses on her last name “Keats”. According to the poet, the last name of hers enchanted in his heart as is also his last name. It also reflects the poet’s fascination with his last name too. Thereafter the poet again refers to the poem and compares it with the “good old wine”. Like wine, the poem will give Georgiana pleasurable moments in the future when she will read it accidentally. It will revive the old moments. If the poet cannot make it there, she will still have him among her “Sons, daughters, and home like honied hive.”
This last stanza presents the eternal quality of poetry that is imperishable. Within it, the spirit of the poet lives for ages. In this way, the emotions the poet invested in the lines of the verse also remain intact. The poet specifically wants to immortalize his sister-in-law Georgiana Augusta Keats’s name through this acrostic poem.
‘Acrostic: Georgiana Augusta Keats’ by John Keats was written at the foot of Helvellyn on 27th June 1818. The occasion of the poem as it reflects in the poem, was to glorify his brother’s wife Georgiana Augusta Keats. When the poet went on a walking tour in 1818 his brother George and his wife Georgiana accompanied him to Liverpool. Thereafter they left for America. On this occasion, he had to thank his brother and mostly his wife for assisting him in his journey. For this reason, he penned down this acrostic poem and attached it with a letter. Sadly, it never reached the couple and returned to the poet.
‘Acrostic: Georgiana Augusta Keats’ by John Keats presents the emotions of love and brotherhood throughout the lines of the poem. The following poems are similar to the themes present in Keats’ poem.
- Sonnet 75 by Edmund Spenser – In this poem by Edmund Spenser, the poet presents the eternal quality of verse like Keats presented in his poem.
- To My Dear and Loving Husband by Anne Bradstreet – Poetry that immortalizes one’s name, helps Anne Bradstreet to express her true emotions for her husband. It is similar to Keats’ intention but a little different in presentation.
- Sonnet 18 by William Shakespeare – In this sonnet by William Shakespeare, there is also a reference to the perpetual quality of verse through which a person is dedicated to lives for ages.
- Poetry, Poem by Pablo Neruda – Pablo Neruda’s paradoxical statement about poetic inspiration and reference to actual emotions are consonant with Keats’ ideas in his poem.
John Keats, a second-generation Romantic poet, suffered through depression and the fear of death for his ailing health in the last few years of his life.