Keats's Odes

Keats's Odes:A Lover's Discourse

  • Paperback

A fresh, radical assessment of Keats's odes that meshes the intimate with the critical

When I say this book is a love story, I mean it is about things that cannot be gotten over—like this world, and some of the people in it.”

In 1819, the poet John Keats wrote six poems that would become known as the Great Odes. Some of them—“Ode to a Nightingale,” “To Autumn”—are among the most celebrated poems in the English language. Anahid Nersessian here collects and elucidates each of the odes and offers a meditative, personal essay in response to each, revealing why these poems still have so much to say to us, especially in a time of ongoing political crisis. Her Keats is an unflinching antagonist of modern life—of capitalism, of the British Empire, of the destruction of the planet—as well as a passionate idealist for whom every poem is a love poem.

The book emerges from Nersessian’s lifelong attachment to Keats’s poetry; but more, it “is a love story: between me and Keats, and not just Keats.” Drawing on experiences from her own life, Nersessian celebrates Keats even as she grieves him and counts her own losses—and Nersessian, like Keats, has a passionate awareness of the reality of human suffering, but also a willingness to explore the possibility that the world, at least, could still be saved. Intimate and speculative, this brilliant mix of the poetic and the personal will find its home among the numerous fans of Keats’s enduring work.


  • In Anahid Nersessian's Keats's Odes: A Lover's Discourse, red life streams again through Keats's poems. It is a risky, passionate criticism that - in addition to yielding all sorts of insights into the man and his writing - tests what of her own life the poems might hold (and quicken). This is living in and through and with and against poetry. A brilliant and refreshingly unprofessional book

    Ben LernerParis Review
  • Keats's Odes is brash, skeptical, and tender by turns, offering a fluctuating re-visioning of Keats which is firm in its convictions...Nersessian's prose is bold, irreverent, declarative, and feral. Hyperbole and slackness are deceptive: every phrase feels carefully pitched.

    Times Literary Supplement
  • The book's intimacy, vulnerability and determination to provoke is true to Keats, and Nersessian's genuine feeling for his work is never in doubt. One can't help but be pleased that two centuries on, Keats's odes still inspire engagement and love.

    Washington Post