Why Did I Laugh Tonight? No Voice Will Tell

Notes on Why Did I Laugh Tonight? by John Keats

Notes by Kelly Starr

Why did I laugh tonight? No voice will tell:
No God, no Demon of severe response,
Deigns to reply from Heaven or from Hell.

In the first line the rhetorical question is asked although Keats still goes on to answer himself in the following line that no one can answer
These three lines are the minds dilemma and no answer can man or anyone devise to settle the struggle.
Demon: dark side

Then to my human heart I turn at once.

Self reflection.

Heart! Thou and I are here, sad and alone;
I say, why did I laugh? O mortal pain!
O Darkness! Darkness! ever must I moan,
To question Heaven and Hell and Heart in vain.

These lines show the hearts emotion.

Why did I laugh? I know this Being's lease,
My fancy to its utmost blisses spreads;
Yet would I on this very midnight cease,

Cease: to stop in this context of the poem it could represent the idea of death linking with freedom.

And the world's gaudy ensigns see in shreds;
Verse, Fame, and Beauty are intense indeed,
But Death intenser -Death is Life's high meed.

These two lines display the idea of relishing in what is important in life.
Death is Life’s high meed: Romantic view on life being simple and sometimes bitter which any person can sip. Also involves romantic imagery the idea of drinking in Beauty and Nature or even life. It also can be seen as Keats revelation and the answer to the question that he put forward in the beginning.

SUMMARY

When asking the rhetorical question Keats is trying to follow the trajectory of the human condition which is the mind possessing the knowledge that we are going to die and the heart trying to deny this knowledge and reject it.

Within the poem the conflict between the heart and mind over death is explored.
The poem shows the anguish of this exploration where the heart’s impassioned desires and the minds tiresome limits.

Keats at the end of this poem comes up with the simple answer that he laughed because he was alive. To be able to laugh in the face of the death is to also laugh at the absurdity of the world, reminding man that the ultimate purpose of life is to live.


Why Did I Laugh Tonight? No Voice Will Tell

Why did I laugh tonight? No voice will tell:
No God, no Demon of severe response,
Deigns to reply from Heaven or from Hell.
Then to my human heart I turn at once.
Heart! Thou and I are here, sad and alone;
I say, why did I laugh? O mortal pain!
O Darkness! Darkness! ever must I moan,
To question Heaven and Hell and Heart in vain.
Why did I laugh? I know this Being's lease,
My fancy to its utmost blisses spreads;
Yet would I on this very midnight cease,
And the world's gaudy ensigns see in shreds;
Verse, Fame, and Beauty are intense indeed,
But Death intenser -Death is Life's high meed.



© Keats' Kingdom 2004 - - All rights reserved.
Feel free to use any content here for study purposes, essays, reports etc.
But if you farm any content for use on other websites, I will know about it. Trust me.