Ode to a Nightingale - Further Notes Summary The speaker opens with a declaration of his own heartache.
Envy of the imagined happiness of the nightingale is not responsible for his condition; rather, it is a reaction to the happiness he has experienced through sharing in the happiness of the nightingale.
Keats longs for a draught of wine which would take him out of himself and allow him to join his existence with that of the bird. The wine would put him in a state in which he would no longer be himself, aware that life is full of pain, that the young die, the old suffer, and that just to think about life brings sorrow and despair.
But wine is not needed to enable him to escape. His imagination will serve just as well. As soon as he realizes this, he is, in spirit, lifted up above the trees and can see the moon and the stars even though where he is physically there is only a glimmering of light.
He cannot see what flowers are growing around him, but from their odor and from his knowledge of what flowers should be in bloom at the time he can guess.
In the darkness he listens to the nightingale. Now, he feels, it would be a rich experience to die, "to cease upon the midnight with no pain" while the bird would continue to sing ecstatically.
Many a time, he confesses, he has been "half in love with easeful Death. The song of the nightingale that he is listening to was heard in ancient times by emperor and peasant.
Perhaps even Ruth whose story is told in the Old Testament heard it. He cannot escape even with the help of the imagination.
The singing of the bird grows fainter and dies away. The experience he has had seems so strange and confusing that he is not sure whether it was a vision or a daydream. He is even uncertain whether he is asleep or awake. Analysis The "Ode to a Nightingale" is a regular ode.
All eight stanzas have ten pentameter lines and a uniform rhyme scheme. Although the poem is regular in form, it leaves the impression of being a kind of rhapsody; Keats is allowing his thoughts and emotions free expression. One thought suggests another and, in this way, the poem proceeds to a somewhat arbitrary conclusion.
The poem impresses the reader as being the result of free inspiration uncontrolled by a preconceived plan. The poem is Keats in the act of sharing with the reader an experience he is having rather than recalling an experience. The experience is not entirely coherent. It is what happens in his mind while he is listening to the song of a nightingale.
Three main thoughts stand out in the ode.
The happiness which Keats hears in the song of the nightingale has made him happy momentarily but has been succeeded by a feeling of torpor which in turn is succeeded by the conviction that life is not only painful but also intolerable.
His taste of happiness in hearing the nightingale has made him all the more aware of the unhappiness of life. Keats wants to escape from life, not by means of wine, but by a much more powerful agent, the imagination.
His family life was shattered by the departure of one brother to America and the death from tuberculosis of the other. His second volume of poetry had been harshly reviewed. He had no gainful occupation and no prospects, since he had abandoned his medical studies.
His financial condition was insecure. He had not been well in the fall and winter of and possibly he was already suffering from tuberculosis.
He could not marry Fanny Brawne because he was not in a position to support her. Thus the death-wish in the ode may be a reaction to a multitude of troubles and frustrations, all of which were still with him.
The heavy weight of life pressing down on him forced "Ode to a Nightingale" out of him. Keats more than once expressed a desire for "easeful Death," yet when he was in the final stages of tuberculosis he fought against death by going to Italy where he hoped the climate would cure him.
The death-wish in the ode is a passing but recurrent attitude toward a life that was unsatisfactory in so many ways.
The third main thought in the ode is the power of imagination or fancy.In the spring of , the months during which Keats wrote four of the five great odes, Keats stayed with his friend Charles Brown in Wentworth Place, Hampstead.
Brown later wrote the following account, which may offer the reader insight about the experience expressed in “Ode to a Nightingale. Keats explored the relationship between visions and poetry in “Ode to Psyche” and “Ode to a Nightingale.” The Five Senses and Art Keats imagined that the five senses loosely corresponded to and connected with various types of art.
A summary of To Autumn in John Keats's Keats’s Odes. Learn exactly what happened in this chapter, scene, or section of Keats’s Odes and what it means. Perfect for acing essays, tests, and quizzes, as well as for writing lesson plans. Complete summary of John Keats' Ode on a Grecian Urn.
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One of the major themes of the Romantic era was the conflict between the claims of the Imagination and the claims of real life.
This conflict is seen clearly in this earlier ode. Ode to a Nightingale By John Keats About this Poet John Keats was born in London on 31 October , the eldest of Thomas and Frances Jennings Keats’s four children. Although he died at the age of twenty-five, Keats had perhaps the most remarkable career .