Places: Endymion

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

First published: 1818

Type of work: Poetry

Type of plot: Narrative

Time of work: Ancient times

Places DiscussedMount Latmos

Mount EndymionLatmos (laht-MOHS). Pastoral location in Greece on which much of the poem takes place. At the beginning of the poem, John Keats tells readers that he needs to be outside the city and its noise in order to relate the story of Endymion and Diana. Many of his allusions are to Greek gods and goddesses whose powers help explain the wonders of natural creation. Keats also describes in great detail the forests, glens, and dales of Latmos. Shepherds personify perhaps the most peaceful human occupation imaginable. The land on which Endymion watches his sheep is a magical place, where a lamb separated from the flock would never be harmed. Latmos represents the best of the pastoral tradition, where Pan’s music can still be enjoyed.

A woodland altar on Latmos is a gathering place for the shepherd bands, damsels, and other youths who keep alive the pursuit of beauty under the guidance of the woodland god Pan, whom Latmos’s denizens adore. Music is valued as the truest expression of contentment. Ebony-tipped flutes fill the air with Pan’s music. Endymion’s evident distress stands in direct contrast to the peaceful setting, thereby hinting at conflict.

Bowers

Bowers. Shady leaf-covered recesses on Latmos that are the centers of many of the actions in Endymion. Places of repose, bowers are usually located in beautifully wooded areas. To Endymion, they are sources of healing and rest–sanctuaries in which he can sleep, dreaming of his beloved Diana, who reveals herself to him in dreams and visions. With Peona, his beloved sister, Endymion voyages to an island bower to which Peona used to take friends. Keats describes this bower as being located in quiet shade, with a couch of flower leaves. Here Endymion experiences the magic sleep that enables him to confide in Peona about his distress. At another point, the bower is referred to as a nest, a place of nurturing. When Endymion is at last united with his love, they are borne away to a crystal bower, at which time they vanish. Peona returns to Latmos, traveling through the dark forest unafraid.

Garden of Adonis

Garden of Adonis. Endymion’s first stop on his search for his dream lover. After meeting with a naiad who warns him that he must search in remote regions for the woman of his dreams if he hopes to find consummation, he descends to the Garden of Adonis, the mortal lover of the goddess Venus. Adonis awakens from his “winter-sleep” as Venus arrives and beseeches her to have pity on Endymion. When Venus and her minions vanish, Endymion wanders on until he sees a huge eagle, which he rides even farther down into the depths.

Cave of Quietude

Cave of Quietude. Secret grotto to which Endymion goes after a beautiful Indian maiden he meets disappears. The cave is a gloomy den that may represent a kind of despair or perhaps an important stage in Endymion’s spiritualization. After Endymion finally lands on Earth, he is still torn between his earthly and divine loves, and when the Indian woman tells him that his love for her is hopeless, Endymion decides to live as a hermit. The Indian Maiden then reveals that she is Cynthia, and, as Endymion’s sister Peona watches in amazement, the lovers abruptly vanish together.

Book I ends as Peona and Endymion go aboard ship, setting out across the river to the hollow, a fearful place, albeit set in the pastoral landscape. Searching and finding within the context of a darker pastoral setting suggests that Endymion must undergo trial before he succeeds.

Sea

Sea. Place of mystery, of Sirens who lure the unwary to doom. At the end of book 2, Endymion awakens to see the sea above his head. It frightens him, reflecting the Moon (Diana) growing pale, as if his lover is dying at the hands of the sea god, Neptune.

Here Endymion exhibits fear, an emotion unknown in his ideal Latmos. Endymion’s quest takes him to the bottom of the sea in book 3. There he encounters Glaucus, an ancient man who welcomes him as a savior, explaining that he has been condemned to sit at the bottom of the ocean for one thousand years by the witch Circe, who was once his lover. Endymion helps Glaucus escape. Afterward, Venus tells Endymion she has discovered the identity of his immortal dream lover.

BibliographyEnde, Stuart A. “Keats’s Music of Truth.” English Literary History 40 (Spring, 1973): 90-104. Drawing on Yeats’s theory that for each poet there is a single myth that underlies his or her deepest meditations, Ende considers Keats’s poetic development in terms of the conflict between his desire for vision or imagination and his sense of separation from such redeeming states. Discusses Endymion: A Poetic Romance.Mayhead, Robin. John Keats. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1967. Discusses Endymion: A Poetic Romance in the context of Keats’s entire body of works. This study serves as a basic introduction to Keats and his works.Stillinger, Jack, ed. Introduction to John Keats: Complete Poems, by John Keats. Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of the Harvard University Press, 1982. Stillinger, the definitive Keats scholar, presents all of Keats’s poems with a readable introduction that defines a basic critical approach.Thurston, Norman. “Biography and Keats’s Pleasure Thermometer.” Wordsworth Circle 4 (Autumn, 1973): 267-270. Thurston discusses the “pleasure thermometer” in the letter to John Taylor as “a coherent and unified expression of Keats’s attitude toward Endymion” at the time Keats wrote the letter.Walsh, William. Introduction to Keats. New York: Methuen, 1981. Walsh uses the commentaries of a number of respected Keats scholars to place Endymion: A Poetic Romance in the appropriate critical context and rank among Keats’s other works.
Categories: Places