Keats’s Ode to a Nightingale is taken into account one among the best odes in English Literature. It reveals the very best imaginative powers of the poet. The poem was inspired by the song of a nightingale, which the poet heard within the gardens of his friend Charles Brown. The sweet music of the nightingale sent the poet in rapture and one morning he took his chair from the table, put it on the grass-plot under the plum and composed the poem.
After he had finished the poem he came back with scraps of paper in his hand. Brown rescued the papers and located them to be the poem on the nightingale.
Thus the poem is an expression of Keats’s feelings rising in his heart at the hearing of the melodious song of the bird. The song of the nightingale moves from the poet to the depth of his heart and creates in him heartache and numbness as is made by the drinking of hemlock. He thinks that the bird lives during a place of beauty. When he hears the nightingale’s song, he’s entrenched by its sweetness and his joy becomes so excessive that it changes into a sort of pleasant pain. he’s crammed with a desire to flee from the planet of caring to the planet of the lovely place of the bird.
The poem presents the image of the tragedy of human life. It brings out an expression of Keats’s pessimism and dejection. He composed this poem at the time when his heart was filled with sorrow. His youngest brother Tom had died, the other had gone abroad and therefore the poet himself was under the suspense and agony by the passionate love for Fanny Brawne. of these happenings had induced within the poet a mood of sorrow. He couldn’t suppress it. Thus the poet enjoys the pleasure in sadness/ pain and feasts upon the very sadness/ pain into joy. This complex emotion gives the poem a singular charm.
In the beginning, Keats seems to be an immature youth with a melancholic heart urging to seek out a way of oblivion and escape. On catching the sight of a nightingale and hearing its music, which he assumes to be an immortal voice of happiness, Keats feels that his body is getting benumbed. But, he also feels an acute pain because he’s aware of his mortality and suffering. He fantasizes of getting drunk hemlock or ‘some dull opiate’: “My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains, / my sense, as if of hemlock I had drunk.” The initial situation of awareness and conflict is slowly to vary and develop throughout the ode with a corresponding shift in tone. The tragic awareness of suffering inflicts on him a peculiar quite ache because the opposing effect of dullness, which is that the effect of desire, is increasing. the notice may be a burden that creates him ‘sunk’ gradually towards the planet of oblivion.
After describing his plight, Keats acknowledges, instead of envy the bird’s ‘happy lot’ and participates in its permanent happiness. He identifies the bird with a dryad, the Greek Goddess of the tree. He contrasts the mortality and suffering of a person with the immortality and excellent happiness of the nightingale. Of course, Keats immortalizes the bird by thinking of the race of it because the symbol of universal and undying musical voice, which is that the voice of nature, and also of ideal romantic poetry, of the planet of art and spirit. This universal and eternal voice has comforted citizenry embittered by life and tragedies by opening the casement of the remote, magical, spiritual, eternal, and therefore the ideal. The poet is looking for the imaginative experience of an imaginatively perfect world. At this stage within the poem, the poet is trying to flee from the truth, and knowledge the perfect instead of complement one with the opposite. This dualism is to resolve later. Keats begins by urging for poison and wine, then desires for the poetic and imaginative experience.
But, because the poem develops, one feels that the numbness and intoxication the poet deliberately and imaginatively imposes upon his senses of pain are meant to awaken a better sense of experience. The vintage, dance and song, the waters of poetic inspiration are the heart of the south together make a compound and sensuous appeal.
Keats develops a dialectic by partaking both the states-the the fretful here of man and therefore the happy thereof the Nightingale-and is the mediator between the 2. After activating the planet of insight and inner experience by obliterating that of the sense, Keats is revived into a special awareness of the conflict. With this awareness, he moves into a better thematic ground moving from the ache of the start through looking for permanence and eventually exploring the strain so on balance the transient with the permanent.
Nobody can escape into the perfect world forever. Imaginative minds can have a momentary flight into the fanciful world. But, ultimately one has got to return to the important world and must accept the truth. Keats is not any exception to the present. He makes imaginative flights into the perfect world, but accepts the realities of life despite its ‘fever, fret and fury’.
The process of experience, he has undergone has undoubtedly left him with a heightened awareness of both the modes of experience. When the imaginative life wakes, the pressures of ordinary experience are benumbed: and when the ordinary experience becomes acute, the intensity of imaginative reality is reduced. And this makes life and knowledge more complete.
The song of the bird symbolizes the song of the poet. Keats is contrasting the immorality of poetry with the immorality of the poet. this is often the climax of the poem and therefore the point where the various themes harmonized—the great thing about the nightingale’s song, the loveliness of the Spring night, the miseries of the planet, the will to flee from those miseries by death, by wine, or my poetry.
The Ode isn’t the expression of one mood, but a succession of moods. From being too happy within the happiness of the bird’s song, Keats becomes conscious of the contrast between the bird’s apparent joy and therefore the misery of the human condition, from the thought of which he can only momentarily escape by wine, by poetry, by the sweetness of nature, or by the thought of death. within the seventh stanza the contrast is sharpened: the immortal bird, representing natural beauty also like poetry, is about against the ‘hungry generations’ of mankind. Keats expresses with a maximum of intensity the will to flee from reality, and yet he recognizes that no escape is feasible.
One quite mastery displayed by Keats during this ode is worth noting—the continuous shifting of viewpoint. We are transported from the poet within the garden to the bird within the trees; within the second stanza we’ve glimpses of Flora and Provence, followed by one among the poets drinking the wine; within the fourth stanza we are haunted into the starlit skies, and within the next, we are back again within the flower-scented darkness. within the seventh stanza we rang furthest in time and place. The nightingale’s song is unrestricted by either time or space. The voice of the nightingale is formed immune first to history, then to geography. It can establish a rapport with dead generations or with faery lands. within the last stanza we start again from the Hampstead garden, then follow the nightingale because it disappears within the distance.
The poem expresses the poet’s love of romance, deep enjoyment of nature and his interest within Greek mythology. within the poem the regard to Flora, Dryad, and Bacchus is formed which are all associated with Greek mythology. It shows that Greek mythology had a deep hold on the mind of the poet. The poem contains concrete imagery, the richness of coloring and therefore the elements of charm and deep human interest. The mastery of poetic language is perfectly seen in the poem. the design of the poem is Shakespearean. The expressions are unsurpassed.
To sum up, Keats soars high together with his ‘wings of poesy’ into the planet of ideas and excellent happiness. But the subsequent moment, consciousness makes him land on the grounds of reality and he bids farewell to the perfect bird. At this moment, Keats must even have been conscious that the very bird, which he had idealized and immortalized, existed within the world, mortal and susceptible to change and suffering like himself.