Study Guide

The Eve of St. Agnes Stanza 20

By John Keats

Stanza 20

"It shall be as thou wishest," said the Dame:
"All cates and dainties shall be stored there
Quickly on this feast-night: by the tambour frame
Her own lute thou wilt see: no time to spare,
For I am slow and feeble, and scarce dare
On such a catering trust my dizzy head.
Wait here, my child, with patience; kneel in prayer
The while: Ah! thou must needs the lady wed,
Or may I never leave my grave among the dead."

  • Angela agrees to help Porphyro hide himself in the closet. Note: never ask this woman to babysit.
  • Again, we see that word "wish"—it's as though Porphyro is wishing all of this stuff into being, rather than just arranging stuff with help from Angela.
  • And this isn't just your average closet under the stairs: it's full of tasty munchies ("cates" means delicacies) and Madeline's lute's stored there, too. Bonus.
  • Angela tells him to wait where he is for a bit while she goes and arranges everything, but not without a parting shot: "Oh, by the way, better start saying your prayers, Porphyro, because you're definitely marrying Madeline now." 
  • It looks like Angela has about as much faith in the restraint of teenagers as we do—even if she doesn't think Porphyro's going to get frisky with Madeline, just letting the guy into her room in the middle of the night is enough reason to demand that these kids get married.