According to Brown, a nightingale had built its nest near the house that he shared with Keats in the spring of Inspired by the bird's song, Keats composed the poem in one day. It soon became one of his odes and was first published in Annals of the Fine Arts the following July. The poem is one of the most frequently anthologized in the English language.
The tone of the poem rejects the optimistic pursuit of pleasure found within Keats's earlier poems and, instead, explores the themes of nature, transience and mortality, the latter being particularly relevant to Keats.
The nightingale described experiences a type of death but does not actually die. Instead, the songbird is capable of living through its song, which is a fate that humans cannot expect. The poem ends with an acceptance that pleasure cannot last and that death is an inevitable part of life.
In the poem, Keats imagines the loss of the physical world and sees himself dead—as a " sod " over which the nightingale sings.
The contrast between the immortal nightingale and mortal man sitting in his garden, is made all the more acute by an effort of the imagination. The presence of weather is noticeable in the poem, as spring came early in , bringing nightingales all over the heath.
Of Keats's six major odes of , " Ode to Psyche ", was probably written first and " To Autumn " written last. Sometime between these two, he wrote "Ode to a Nightingale". The poem was composed at the Hampstead house Keats shared with Brown, possibly while sitting beneath a plum tree in the garden.
Keats felt a tranquil and continual joy in her song; and one morning he took his chair from the breakfast-table to the grass-plot under a plum-tree, where he sat for two or three hours.
Ode to a Nightingale
When he came into the house, I perceived he had some scraps of paper in his hand, and these he was quietly thrusting behind the books. On inquiry, I found those scraps, four or five in number, contained his poetic feelings on the song of the nightingale.
However, Keats relied on both his own imagination and other literature as sources for his depiction of the nightingale. However, he worked on the four poems together, and there is a unity in both their stanza forms and their themes.
The exact order the poems in which the poems were written is also unknown, but they form a sequence within their structures.
While Keats was writing "Ode on a Grecian Urn" and the other poems, Brown transcribed copies of the poems and submitted them to Richard Woodhouse. Elmes paid Keats a small sum of money, and the poem was published in the July issue. This is further evidenced by the poems' structures. Keats experimentally combines two different types of lyrical poetry: the odal hymn and the lyric of questioning voice that responds to the odal hymn.
This combination of structures is similar to that in "Ode on a Grecian Urn". In both poems, the dual form creates a dramatic element within the text. The stanza form of the poem is a combination of elements from Petrarchan sonnets and Shakespearean sonnets.
Odes to a Nightingale by John Keats
Keats incorporates a pattern of alternating historically "short" and "long" vowel sounds in his ode. In particular, line 18 "And purple-stained mouth" has the historical pattern of "short" followed by "long" followed by "short" and followed by "long".
This alternation is continued in longer lines, including line 31 "Away! However, other lines, such as line 3 "Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains" rely on a pattern of five "short" vowels followed by "long" and "short" vowel pairings until they end with a "long" vowel. These are not the only combination patterns present, and there are patterns of two "short" vowels followed by a "long" vowel in other lines, including 12, 22, and 59, which are repeated twice and then followed up with two sets of "short" and then "long" vowel pairs.
This reliance on vowel sounds is not unique to this ode, but is common to Keats's other odes and his Eve of St. The poem incorporates a complex reliance on assonance —the repetition of vowel sounds—in a conscious pattern, as found in many of his poems. Such a reliance on assonance is found in very few English poems. Within "Ode to a Nightingale", an example of this pattern can be found in line 35 "Already with thee!
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This same pattern is found again in line 41 "I cannot see what flowers are at my feet" with the "a" of "cannot" linking with the "a" of "at" and the "ee" of "see" linking with the "ee" of "feet". This system of assonance can be found in approximately a tenth of the lines of Keats's later poetry. An example from "Ode to a Nightingale" can be found within line 45 "The grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild" as the pauses after the commas are a "masculine" pause.
Furthermore, Keats began to reduce the amount of Latin -based words and syntax that he relied on in his poetry, which in turn shortened the length of the words that dominate the poem. There is also an emphasis on words beginning with consonants , especially those that begin with "b", "p" or "v". The first stanza relies heavily on these three consonants, and they are used as a syzygy to add a musical tone within the poem.
To Walter Jackson Bate , the use of spondees in lines 31—34 creates a feeling of slow flight, and "in the final stanza. Source: .
Ode to the nightingale pdf995
In the words of Richard Fogle, "The principal stress of the poem is a struggle between ideal and actual: inclusive terms which, however, contain more particular antitheses of pleasure and pain, of imagination and common sense reason, of fullness and privation, of permanence and change, of nature and the human, of art and life, freedom and bondage, waking and dream. The nightingale is also the object of empathy and praise within the poem.
However, the nightingale and the discussion of the nightingale is not simply about the bird or the song, but about human experience in general. This is not to say that the song is a simple metaphor , but it is a complex image that is formed through the interaction of the conflicting voices of praise and questioning.
Furthermore, in creating any aspect of the nightingale immortal during the poem the narrator separates any union that he can have with the nightingale. The nightingale's song within the poem is connected to the art of music in a way that the urn in "Ode on a Grecian Urn" is connected to the art of sculpture.
As such, the nightingale would represent an enchanting presence and, unlike the urn, is directly connected to nature. As natural music, the song is for beauty and lacks a message of truth.
Ode to a Nightingale Introduction
Keats follows Coleridge's belief, as found in "The Nightingale", in separating from the world by losing himself in the bird's song. Although Keats favours a female nightingale over Coleridge's masculine bird, both reject the traditional depiction of the nightingale as related to the tragedy of Philomela.
However, there is tension in that the narrator holds Keats's guilt regarding the death of Tom Keats, his brother. The song's conclusion represents the result of trying to escape into the realm of fancy.
Like Percy Bysshe Shelley 's " To a Skylark ", Keats's narrator listens to a bird song, but listening to the song within "Ode to a Nightingale" is almost painful and similar to death.
The narrator seeks to be with the nightingale and abandons his sense of vision in order to embrace the sound in an attempt to share in the darkness with the bird. As the poem ends, the trance caused by the nightingale is broken and the narrator is left wondering if it was a real vision or just a dream.
This further separates the image of the nightingale's song from its closest comparative image, the urn as represented in "Ode on a Grecian Urn". The nightingale is distant and mysterious, and even disappears at the end of the poem. The dream image emphasizes the shadowiness and elusiveness of the poem. These elements make it impossible for there to be a complete self-identification with the nightingale, but it also allows for self-awareness to permeate throughout the poem, albeit in an altered state.
Midway through the poem, there is a split between the two actions of the poem: the first attempts to identify with the nightingale and its song, and the second discusses the convergence of the past with the future while experiencing the present.
This second theme is reminiscent of Keats's view of human progression through the Mansion of Many Apartments and how man develops from experiencing and wanting only pleasure to understanding truth as a mixture of both pleasure and pain. The Elysian fields and the nightingale's song in the first half of the poem represent the pleasurable moments that overwhelm the individual like a drug.
However, the experience does not last forever, and the body is left desiring it until the narrator feels helpless without the pleasure.
Instead of embracing the coming truth, the narrator clings to poetry to hide from the loss of pleasure. Poetry does not bring about the pleasure that the narrator original asks for, but it does liberate him from his desire for only pleasure.
Responding to this emphasis on pleasure, Albert Guerard, Jr. The form of the poem is that of progression by association, so that the movement of feeling is at the mercy of words evoked by chance, such words as fade and forlorn , the very words that, like a bell, toll the dreamer back to his sole self.
Death was a constant theme that permeated aspects of Keats poetry because he was exposed to death of his family members throughout his life. The nightingale experiences a sort of death and even the god Apollo experiences death, but his death reveals his own divine state. As Perkins explains, "But, of course, the nightingale is not thought to be literally dying.
The point is that the deity or the nightingale can sing without dying. But, as the ode makes clear, man cannot—or at least not in a visionary way. With this theme of a loss of pleasure and inevitable death, the poem, according to Claude Finney, describes "the inadequacy of the romantic escape from the world of reality to the world of ideal beauty". The contrast between the immortal nightingale and mortal man, sitting in his garden, is made all the more acute by an effort of the imagination.
Contemporary critics of Keats enjoyed the poem, and it was heavily quoted in their reviews. Indeed, we are inclined to prefer it beyond every other poem in the book; but let the reader judge.
The third and seventh stanzas have a charm for us which we should find it difficult to explain.
We have read this ode over and over again, and every time with increased delight. There is that mixture in it of real melancholy and imaginative relief, which poetry alone presents us in her 'charmed cup,' and which some over-rational critics have undertaken to find wrong because it is not true. It does not follow that what is not true to them, is not true to others. If the relief is real, the mixture is good and sufficing. John Scott , in an anonymous review for the September edition of The London Magazine , argued for the greatness of Keats's poetry as exemplified by poems including "Ode to a Nightingale":.
The injustice which has been done to our author's works, in estimating their poetical merit, rendered us doubly anxious, on opening his last volume, to find it likely to seize fast hold of general sympathy, and thus turn an overwhelming power against the paltry traducers of talent, more eminently promising in many respects, than any the present age has been called upon to encourage.
We have not found it to be quite all that we wished in this respect--and it would have been very extraordinary if we had, for our wishes went far beyond reasonable expectations. But we have found it of a nature to present to common understandings the poetical power with which the author's mind is gifted, in a more tangible and intelligible shape than that in which it has appeared in any of his former compositions.
It is, therefore, calculated to throw shame on the lying, vulgar spirit, in which this young worshipper in the temple of the Muses has been cried-down; whatever questions may still leave to be settled as to the kind and degree of his poetical merits.
Take for instance, as proof of the justice of our praise, the following passage from an Ode to the Nightingaleit is distinct, noble, pathetic, and true: the thoughts have all chords of direct communication with naturally-constituted hearts: the echoes of the strain linger bout the depths of human bosoms.
In a review for the 21 January London Journal , Hunt claimed that while Keats wrote the poem, "The poet had then his mortal illness upon him, and knew it.
Never was the voice of death sweeter. At the end of the 19th century, Robert Bridges's analysis of the poem became a dominant view and would influence later interpretations of the poem.
Bridges, in , declared that the poem was the best of Keats's odes but he thought that the poem contained too much artificial language. In particular, he emphasised the use of the word "forlorn" and the last stanza as being examples of Keats's artificial language. At the beginning of the 20th century, Rudyard Kipling referred to lines 69 and 70, alongside three lines from Samuel Taylor Coleridge 's Kubla Khan , when he claimed of poetry: "In all the millions permitted there are no more than five—five little lines—of which one can say, 'These are the magic.
These are the vision. The rest is only Poetry.