John Keats - Ode to a Nightingale Criticism
Keats is in love with a nightingale. He is at a loss of how to feel; happy for witnessing the bird’s ‘high requiem’, or sad for not being part of its world. In the first stanza the poet is having clear symptoms of an extreme sadness. His ‘heart aches’ and a drowsy numbness pains’ his sense. This heavy mood is paradoxically denounced in the same stanza. It’s ‘being too happy’ in the nightingale’s happiness that’s causing the malaise. The stanza comes to an end in a joyful mood as opposed the heavy start of the poem. He imagines the bird’s home as ‘some melodious plot of beechen green’. Through this synaesthesia he creates a vivid picture of one of his classic bowers. The second stanza opens with a plea ‘for a drought of vintage’ through which he can fulfill his plea to ‘fade away’. This stanza evokes a lot of appeal to the sense of taste, ‘tasting of flora and county green’. The theme of nature together with a joyful atmosphere is also evident. ‘Dance, and provencal song, and sunburnt mirth’. From the comfort of the dreamy second stanza, the third plunges the reader into the sad reality and banality of life. ‘The weariness, the fever, and the fret’ are a reality that the nightingale doesn’t know. Here ‘youth grows pale’ and ‘beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes’. This sombre stanza induces a feeling of a disappointing reality. It’s much better to belong to a dream than to this painful truth. This stanza is also a typical example of Keats’s obsession with illness and death. He decides to ‘fly’ to the nightingale’s realm. However he won’t do this through substance he pondered about in the first two stanzas, but through ‘the viewless wings of poesy’. This is a eulogy to poetry and its ability to take the reader to the spiritual realm of imagination. He joins the nightingale where the trees let no light in except for when the wind moves their branches. The last three lines stress darkness and the gloomy...
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