The speaker of "Ode to Psyche" begins with a passionate cry: "O Goddess!" This direct apostrophe lets readers know that this is an ode—a poem of praise addressed directly to its subject. The subject, in this case, will be Psyche, the classical goddess of the soul; the speaker intends to treat her with all the ceremonious respect a "Goddess" deserves.
He seems to have learned his manners from the poetry of her world. This first passage of the poem works a lot like an invocation, the little prayer to a god or a muse (a goddess of art and inspiration) that often appears at the beginning of an ancient Greek or Roman poem. (The Odyssey, for instance, famously begins, "Sing to me, Muse!") Here, though, the poet isn't asking Psyche to sing to (or through) him, but asking her to listen while he sings his "tuneless numbers"—a song without music—to her.
But he seems a little sheepish about asking her to listen! In fact, he begs Psyche's pardon:
And pardon that thy secrets should be sung
Even into thine own soft-conched ear:
Why on earth would this singer feel like he has to apologize for singing Psyche a song of praise about herself? The clue is in what she's the goddess of. As the goddess of the soul and the mind (one can find her name even today in words like "psychology"), she's the guardian of the inner life—and, as the reader will see, this poem is going to celebrate the inner life using all the powers of that inner life. In other words, he's using his own "psyche" to praise Psyche! Maybe he's right to blush a little.
The speaker vividly expresses his closeness to his subject in a moment of vivid imagery. He's not just singing this song into Psyche's ear, but whispering it into her "soft-conched ear." Here, he imagines that the ear looks like a shell, with whorls like a conch—but it's also soft. It's as if he's so close to Psyche that his lips are brushing her ear as he speaks. The gentle assonance of "soft-conched," and the sibilance of "pardon that thy secrets should be sung," heightens that feeling of whispery closeness even more. This will be an intensely intimate poem of the imagination.