The Eve of St Agnes by William Holman Hunt

Afternoon Poems Special: The Eve of St Agnes

Keats House
10 Keats Grove
Event time
20 Jan 2019

They glide, like phantoms, into the wide hall;
Like phantoms, to the iron porch, they glide;
Where lay the Porter, in uneasy sprawl, 
With a huge empty flagon by his side;
The wakeful bloodhound rose, and shook his hide,
But his sagacious eye an inmate owns:
By one, and one, the bolts full easy slide:
The chains lie silent on the footworn stones;
The key turns, and the door upon its hinges groans.

Keats’s sensuous, Gothic love story, written in January 1819, has become one of his best-loved poems. On St Agnes’ Eve, the feast of a virgin martyr, girls would traditionally fast and pray to receive a vision of their future husbands. From this myth, Keats builds a tale full of drama and contrasts, with Christian imagery set against some of his lushest eroticism. Poets Julia Bird and Mike Sims will carry you through this poem in an interactive journey of deception, feasting and gifts, with readings from the Keats House Poetry Ambassadors.

Free, booking essential