Study Guide

The Eve of St. Agnes Stanza 24

By John Keats

Stanza 24

A casement high and triple-arch'd there was,
All garlanded with carven imag'ries
Of fruits and flowers, and bunches of knot-grass,
And diamonded with panes of quaint device,
Innumberable of stains and splendid dyes,
As are the tiger-moth's deep-damask'd wings;
And in the midst, 'mong thousand heraldries,
And twilight saints, and dim emblazonings,
A shielded scutcheon blushed with blood of queens and kings.

  • This entire stanza basically just describes a stained-glass window. Because Keats's motto in this poem is "Why use one word when I could use 60?" This stanza is also weird because in stanza 23 you thought you were really getting somewhere. At last, Madeline arrives, and she's... panting. References to super-dramatic myths are made, aaaand then… "Hey, would you look at that window?"
  • To be fair, it's a pretty window, decorated with pretty fruits, flowers, and dyes that is compared in a simile to a moth's patterned ("damask'd") wings. That said, it's not all pretty description: this window also features a "thousand heraldries" surrounding "a shielded scutcheon blush'd with blood of queens and kings."
  • Okay, so, what does that mean, and why does it matter? What Keats is basically describing is the shield (that's the "scutcheon") in the middle of a coat of arms that represents Madeline's family.
  • Wondering why Keats takes a commercial break to talk about this? Go check out "Symbols: Scutcheon" for more some ideas, but come right back.