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"In many of his poems, Keats starts out from the familiar and everyday but quickly takes off into different territory." In the light of this comment, explore Keats's poetic methods in 'Ode to a Nightingale'.

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Introduction

"In many of his poems, Keats starts out from the familiar and everyday but quickly takes off into different territory." In the light of this comment, explore Keats's poetic methods in 'Ode to a Nightingale'. The opening lines tell of how his senses are dulled, Keats draws on the effects of alcohol to liken this feeling to, "as though of hemlock I had drunk", although crucial to help the reader understand his pain, Keats starts the poem with a very menial subject of dulled senses. "My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains / My sense," this first line is used by Keats to contrast the numbness with pain, as if the fact he feels nothing hurts him, this beginning is similar to Shakespearian plays where a character talks as if to himself/herself but the audience gains a lot intelligence of what they are feeling. Keats is soon drawn away from his pains towards a "light-winged Dryad of the trees" by merely commenting on how happy this nightingale is, who "Singest of summer in full-throated ease" and pulls him out of this sleepy state. ...read more.

Middle

Here we see poetry being personified as blind as he tries to convey that he never knows where his poetry will take him. The mention of Bacchus, god of wine, links back to his wish to be drunk although Keats has found an alternative way to fulfil his wish. He uses the method of subtle links to keep with his reality while the reader is made to move with him into this woodland. Keats uses a lot of movement in his poems, from one place to another for example in 'The Eve of St. Agnes' through the building as the reader follows a lover make his journey, this method requires a great deal of detail but is used effectively to move the poem forward without leaving the reader behind. There is a scene built up by Keats which closely relates to 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' by William Shakespeare, of "Queen-Moon" and "all her starry Fays", very typical imagery of nature. ...read more.

Conclusion

This and the last verse are again linked by one word, forlorn. Keats brings himself back to reality by saying "Adieu!" to the nightingale as the reality is that such an easy way out of life is through dreams, "the fancy cannot cheat so well", repetition of adieu makes this final and he forces the image of the nightingale from his mind. The poem is ended with two questions, "Was it a vision or a waking dream? / Fled is that music:-Do I wake or sleep?" simple, short and used to lighten the mood of the poem. These last two lines again link with the first few verses when the poet lays between awake and asleep. Keats gives the nightingale the recognition it deserves and muses on his own life at the same time, this is all erratically placed without much care for structure in the poem but linking subjects and thoughts throughout the poem keeps it together. The detail and rich language is left out of the lines with serious connotations but as Keats's mind wanders there is some capturing description and imagery included using onomatopoeia to create a soothing effect and monosyllabic commands to emphasise immediacy. ...read more.

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