Under Apollonius' "juggling" and "demon eyes" (Keats 1970: 178) which act like a potion spreading away the spell or like a spear killing a hero in a war ("the sophist's eye,/Like a sharp spear, went through her utterly,/Keen, cruel, perceant
, stinging" (Keats 1970: 178), Lamia is "changed" and "withered" ("My sweet bride withers at their potency," Keats 1970: 178).
The catastrophe, in which "the sophist's eye / Like a sharp spear, went through her utterly, / Keen, cruel, perceant
, stinging" (2:299-300), is remarkably extreme in figuring the gaze as violence, but it is also a mere development of the violence implicit in the poem's more commonplace figures for seeing.
Indeed, the "lamia" of the previous line is, in Keats's poem, a creature of the imagination who is able to generate a self-sustaining world of aesthetic and erotic pleasure not only for herself but for others as well--for everyone except the killjoy philosopher Apollonius, with his "perceant
eye." A capacious inner world of imagination opens up for the poet as a consequence of his encounter with a look that he interprets as concealing a "circle of thought" inaccessible to him.