The Course Number 6 December 2011 My Perception of John Keats’ “Ode to a Nightingale” “Ode to a Nightingale” by John Keats was inspired by the song of a nightingale whose song Keats heard in his friend’s garden back in 1819…
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To my mind, this poem is an interlacement of themes, symbols, and mysterious images accompanied by perfect verse forms. My goal in this paper is to express my perception of the poem in terms of its themes and symbolism. Thematically, “Ode to a Nightingale” explores a few directions. First of all, there is the author’s changing reality. To be more precise, real world somehow turns into the world of fantasy. Sometimes the divide is so slight in the poem that it is hard to pinpoint which reality the speaker is in. On a closer look, however, it becomes clear that by the fourth stanza the speaker has already united with the nightingale in a fantasy world which is lush, as well as dark. In particular, having heard the song of the nightingale, the author wishes to taste fine French wine in order to experience such condition of mind that will provide him with enjoyment of the nightingale: “that I might drink, and leave the world unseen, And with thee fade away into the forest dim” ( Keats, “Ode to a Nightingale”, lines 19-20). Still, it crosses the poet’s mind that wine is not necessary to be with the bird, so he uses his metaphorical wings of poetry to escape to the forest. Away! away! for I will fly to thee, Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards, But on the viewless wings of Poesy, Though the dull brain perplexes and retards: Already with thee! tender is the night (Keats, “Ode to a Nightingale”, lines 36, 37). Next, in this changing realities context, the author is taken close to death experience in his mysterious journey. Yet, the bird flies away and this seems to breaks the spell. Throughout the poem, one may feel the author’s changed mental state, which he says is rooted in his natural condition rather than intoxication by some drug or alcohol. Furthermore, the theme of happiness/unhappiness is evident in the poem. Specifically, we get to know that the speaker feels extremely unhappy about his life burden placed on him by his age and time. He even expresses his hatred at the very thought that young and handsome people of the Romantic Movement will once become old and disabled. However, the author claims that what he feels is happiness for the singing nightingale, which makes his heart ache: 'Tis not through envy of thy happy lot, But being too happy in thine happiness, That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees, In some melodious plot Of beechen green, and shadows numberless, Singest of summer in full-throated ease. (Keats, “Ode to a Nightingale”, lines 5-10). Another theme to reflect upon is the relationship between the man and Mother Nature. The author feels admiration for a tiny bird that represents Nature – everlasting and self-renewing. In particular, the nightingale is perceived as an embodiment of nature which is able to restore its natural cycles of both life and death, and thus stays immortal. Indeed, it seems the author’s perception of Nature is rather mysterious and even magical. So he grants some magical powers to the subject of his admiration. In particular, the nightingale singing on a tree is compared to a “dryad”, which is a spirit of the forest. To add, Nature leaves the speaker’s imagination spellbound and this thought is developed further in the poem. To illustrate, O for a draught of vintage! that hath been Cool'd a long age in the deep-delved earth, Tasting of Flora and the country-green (…) (Keats, “Ode to a Nightingale”, line 13) Symbolically, the image of nightingale is quite
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The poem reflects a contrast between sadness and joy, the nightingale representing a sense of joy that is missing from the narrator’s experience. The narrator wishes for the innocence of a lack of the knowledge for what is making them sad and goes on to describe a world in which he believes the nightingale is immersed in peace and joy.
Both these poets were mutual and affectionate friends. Shelley wrote “Adonais” on Keats death in 1821 and drowned to death the very next year. He was very fond of Keats’ works. Several of Keats’ poems were found in his pocket after he drowned (Sandy 5).
Keats invented a new poetic frame for these poems for he found conventional structures to be inadequate for philosophical musings that is the Odes’ defining characteristic. Keats wanted the tone of these odes to be introspective with lesser emphasis on lyrical harmony.
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He wants to leave the world and unite with the bird. He first thinks that wine would transport him to the world of the nightingale. According to Cleanth Brook “The world of mankind and the world of nightingale are
The way the Nightingale’s song captures him, dulling his senses and momentarily drowning his pain, is captured by his reference to the five senses. He imagines drinking wine, smelling flowers, seeing the greenness
This essay focuses on the following thesis: '..essay seeks to relay how Keats in his poem has managed to utilize diction, tone and imagery to relay his message explicitly'. Keats skillfully utilizes the imagery of intoxication, which is in form of a dream featuring three main alterations that comprise the entire poem’s structural response.
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