ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

A Discussion of John Keats' Sonnet entitled "As from the darkening gloom a silver dove"

Updated on August 10, 2013
donnah75 profile image

I am a high school English teacher who is passionate about writing, theater, directing and enjoying a positive life with family and friends.

The Petrarchan, or Italian, sonnet is the most common sonnet form. A Petrarchan sonnet is a fourteen-line poem. The first eight lines are called the octave. The author uses these eight lines to present a situation. The rhyme scheme for every Petrarchan sonnet is abba abba in the octave. The last six lines are called the sestet. The author uses these lines to comment on the situation that he has presented in the octave. The rhyme scheme for these six lines varies. “As from the darkening gloom silver dove,” by John Keats, is a Petrarchan sonnet.

This poem is also an elegy. Keats wrote it in December 1814 after the death of his grandmother, Alice Jennings. In 1804, Jennings began to care for Keats and his siblings after the death of their father and the remarriage of their mother. Keats was very close to his grandmother. This is one of his early poems, as he only began writing verse in 1814.

In the octave, Keats describes the flight of his grandmother’s soul into heaven. He symbolizes her soul with a silver dove. A dove universally symbolizes peace. He is saying that her soul is at peace now that she has died. The “dove upsoars and darts into the Eastern light…” Her soul flies free and smoothly into heaven lifted by “pure delight.” He emphasizes the smooth, easy flight by using run-on lines in the first two lines of the poem where the flight is being described.

She was accepted into heaven by angels. Keats creates a great image of the blessed angels in heaven with brightly shining halos. He paints a picture of heaven as a beautiful, peaceful place full of love. He presents her flight into heaven as a happy, joyous occasion.

In the sestet, the rhyme scheme is cd cd cd. Keats questions his grief in these six lines. He believes that she is extremely happy in heaven. He says that she will sing with an angelic choir that will fill even the already perfect haven with “superior bliss.” Or she might pass swiftly through the air to send a holy message at God’s desire.

“What pleasures higher?” He asks this question in line thirteen after using a caesura, a pause in the middle of the line. He wants the reader to pause and think about the question that he is about to ask because it is important. In his mind there is no higher pleasure than living in eternity.

“Wherefore does any grief our joy impair.” He asks himself, and the reader, to question why we are so sad when someone we love is in such wonderful place. Keats is questioning this natural human behavior. When we have lost a loved one, we grieve. We are sad even though we know they are at peace. Keats says that we have no room for sadness; we should be joyful that the ones we love live on in heaven.

2012. Written by Donna Hilbrandt.

© 2012 Donna Hilbrandt


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • donnah75 profile imageAUTHOR

      Donna Hilbrandt 

      6 years ago from Upstate New York

      Jeff: Busted! I am indeed an English lit teacher :) thanks for the read. I'll have to check out Fry's book.

    • Jeff May profile image

      Jeffrey Penn May 

      6 years ago from St. Louis

      Always enjoyed Keats. I've written some poetry "constrained" by prevailing form from eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Can be extremely difficult. For anyone interested in writing their own poetry, I recommend Stephen Fry's "The Ode Less Travelled." Your hubs have the mark of an English Literature teacher...


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)