by John Keats
The poem tells how the god Hermes hears of a nymph who is more beautiful than all. Hermes, searching for the nymph, instead comes across Lamia, trapped in the form of a serpent. She reveals the previously invisible nymph to him and in return he restores her human form. She goes to seek a youth of Corinth, Lycius, while Hermes and his nymph depart together into the woods. The relationship between Lycius and Lamia, however, is destroyed when the sage Apollonius reveals Lamia's true identity at their wedding feast, whereupon she seemingly disappears and Lycius dies of grief.
According to Michael O'Neill, Lamia in the poem "is treated ambivalently but with considerable sympathy", making "a sharp contrast with the more leisurely and seemingly uncritical use of romance in [the] two narrative poems that follow....the hapless Lycius is caught between the reductive rationalism of Apollonius and the bewitching illusoriness of Lamia."
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