Keats' To a Nightingale

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Keats' To a Nightingale

Postby Sweetest Sensation » Tue May 15, 2007 2:20 am

Hello, :D

This is Keats' ode To a Nightingle.... and I need your help! My teacher assigned some questions on this Ode and I hope to find their answers here, plz help me :oops:

The questions:
1- Comment on the title of the ode.
2- Comment on the images.
3- what is the perspective that the ode carries?
4- There are many headings which may outline each stanza. Comment on them
5- Write about the experience that the poet refers to.
6- Comment on the themes of death and life in keats' works.

plz help me, any answer may be useful! :cry:

Here is the poem:
My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains
One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk:
'Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,
But being too happy in thy 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.

O for a draught of vintage, that hath been
Cooled a long age in the deep-delved earth,
Tasting of Flora and the country green,
Dance, and Provencal song, and sun-burnt mirth!
O for a beaker full of the warm South,
Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,
With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,
And purple-stained mouth;
That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,
And with thee fade away into the forest dim:

Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget
What thou among the leaves hast never known,
The weariness, the fever, and the fret
Here, where men sit and hear each other groan;
Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last gray hairs,
Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies;
Where but to think is to be full of sorrow
And leaden-eyed despairs;
Where beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes,
Or new love pine at them beyond tomorrow.

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,
And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne,
Clustered around by all her starry fays;
But here there is no light,
Save what from heaven is with the breezes blown
Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy ways.

I cannot see what flowers are at my feet,
Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs,
But, in embalmed darkness, guess each sweet
Wherewith the seasonable month endows
The grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild;
White hawthorn, and the pastoral eglantine;
Fast-fading violets covered up in leaves;
And mid-May's eldest child,
The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine,
The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves.

Darkling I listen; and for many a time
I have been half in love with easeful Death,
Called him soft names in many a mused rhyme,
To take into the air my quiet breath;
Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
To cease upon the midnight with no pain,
While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad
In such an ecstasy!
Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain---
To thy high requiem become a sod

Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird!
No hungry generations tread thee down;
The voice I hear this passing night was heard
In ancient days by emperor and clown:
Perhaps the self-same song that found a path
Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,
She stood in tears amid the alien corn;
The same that oft-times hath
Charmed magic casements, opening on the foam
Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.

Forlorn! the very word is like a bell
To toll me back from thee to my sole self!
Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so well
As she is famed to do, deceiving elf.
Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades
Past the near meadows, over the still stream,
Up the hill-side; and now 'tis buried deep
In the next valley-glades:
Was it a vision, or a waking dream?
Fled is that music:---do I wake or sleep?

see you, :wink:
Sweetest Sensation
Posts: 2
Joined: Tue May 15, 2007 1:56 am

Postby dim.conceived.glories » Thu May 17, 2007 4:09 pm


For extra help on this, there is always the search button =).

I'll help as much as I can - I've just been revising this for my AS Level so hopefully will be able to answer the questions!

1. The title: 'Ode to a Nightingale' - an Ode is traditionally a poem expressing admiration and therefore praising the subject; here, the nightingale.

2- Comment on the images: There are many images within the poem, so I'll go stanza by stanza.

In the first stanza, Keats uses words such as 'aches' and 'drowsy' - conjuring images of pain and melancholy. This, contrasting with the sweetness of the nightingale's song - eg. 'happy', 'lightwinged', 'beechen green' and 'ease', emphasises Keats' own melancholy and the happiness surrounding the bird.

The second stanza sees Keats calling for wine to aid him in moving into a world of imagination and fantasy. The jubilant tempo and vitality emphasise the happiness that Keats hopes to obtain with the use of wine, and a rich, lively atmosphere is conjured with active verbs eg. 'dance', as well as with 'green', 'song' and 'sunburnt mirth', as well as 'full' and 'warm'. Keats' description of the sparkling wine, using alliteration of the letter 'b', adds to the lively and 'sparkling' atmosphere, as does the rich image of the 'purple-stained mouth'. Keats here is using concrete imagery to describe the abstract idea of joy and happiness.

Stanza three concentrates on reality as Keats moves back out of his imagination - he mentiones the 'weariness, the fever and the fret' of real life, talking of aged men who 'groan'. The 'few, sad, last gray hairs' emphasise the image of the elderly dying, and there is also an image of the young passing away - 'youth grows pale', 'spectre-thin' - which is a reference to Keats' young brother who died of TB. The images of the 'sorrow' and 'leaden-eyed despairs' are heavy and appear to weigh on Keats' mind, emphasised by the personification of the despairs.

The fourth stanza turns again to Keats' fantasy, with images of light and hope. However, he states that it is night so 'there is no light' - perhaps suggesting that the fantasy is not all perfect, emphasised by his 'dull brain' which 'perplexes and retards', wishing him to remain in reality.

Fifth stanza - much sensuous language is used here, and it is very visual - 'flowers', 'soft incense', 'embalmed' and 'sweet' help to emphasise the rich and full atmosphere and the beauty within the illusion. However, this is juxtaposed with the image of death in the 'fast-fading violets', perhaps reflecting how easily the imagination fades into harsh reality.

Again, stanza 6 adresses the thought of death and the appeal of death - 'easeful', although the stanza ends with the image of becoming 'a sod' and therefore being non-existent after death.

Stanza 7 addresses the bird, and Keats no longer identifies with it. He talks about human sadness and how the bird has often 'charm'd magic casements' and reduced sadness in 'faery lands forlorn', which could once again be a reference to the imagination.

The word 'forlorn' is used again in the last stanza, bringing Keats back into sharp reality, as he bids the nightingale 'adieu' as it flies away from him, and he is left in reality, wondering if he was dreaming. The question at the end of the poem reflects Keats' uncertainty and perhaps insecurities in life.

3- what is the perspective that the ode carries? I think what needs to be said here is that Keats wants to escape the harshness of reality through the song of the nightingale, but in the end is unable to do so, as he realises that the song of the nightingale which would continue without him, as the song is, in a way immortal.

4- There are many headings which may outline each stanza. Comment on them - Not entirely sure what is meant by this...but I've pretty much answered this in question 1, I think =).

5- Write about the experience that the poet refers to: You'll need to look this one up, but Keats basically heard the song of a nightingale in the garden and writes about his experience hearing it, and his vision of how the nightingale itself represents immortality, beauty and joy.

6- Comment on the themes of death and life in keats' works: Wow; this is quite a broad essay question. I'd say you should start just by outlining the fact that Keats constantly had the weight of death and mortality hanging over him - you could talk briefly about the death of his brother and of his imminent death. Then I'd say look at the themes of death in two or three of his poems - I'd recommend 'On Seeing the Elgin Marbles', 'When I Have Fears That I May Cease To Be' (these both address Keats' worry that he won't have time to develop as a poet before he dies) and then perhaps 'To Autumn' which describes the passing from Summer into Autumn, or the passing of life into death.

Hope that helped...good luck!
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Postby Sweetest Sensation » Fri May 18, 2007 3:52 am

I am really very happy with your reply dim.conceived.glories :P

I don't know what am I to say to thank u :D

The answers you mentioned are very useful and I'll follow your advice and study the poems you recommended!

thank u very very very much!
Sweetest Sensation
Posts: 2
Joined: Tue May 15, 2007 1:56 am

Postby Saturn » Fri May 18, 2007 9:43 am

Another satisfied customer :D

Thanks for helping out dim.conceived.glories and welcome to the pair of you hope you stick around. :P
"Oh what a misery it is to have an intellect in splints".
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Postby dim.conceived.glories » Fri May 18, 2007 8:24 pm

=) Thank you, glad to oblige! (It also helped me with AS revision so good all round!) Certainly will be sticking around...this year I've developed a love for Keats and Romantic poetry so have much to read!
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