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Commentary: Ode to a nightingale by john keats

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Introduction

COMMENTARY: ODE TO A NIGHTINGALE BY JOHN KEATS The "Ode to a nightingale" by John Keats is a poem that is multi-layered and can have many meanings shown through the rich imagery of the poem. The poems illustrates a journey taken through imagination, the poet longs for release and escape and chooses his imagination to get there it goes from harsh reality of the real world to the ideal, perfect world. The natural world is used in the poem to express some of the truths and perceptions of the human mind, such as the change in human nature and the short lives of humans compared to the everlasting song of the nightingale. The contrasts portrayed in the poem, the illusion vs. reality is shown through juxtaposition of factors in the real and ideal world. These are the mixture of pain and joy, life and death, morality and immortality these are vital in the poem because they depict the difference between the perfect world created with the nightingale where the poet is able to escape all the negativity and problems in the real world and thus emphasize the poets feelings about human existence and the problems in real life. The reality of life is explored through the imagery shown in the first three stanzas of the poem. ...read more.

Middle

Keats personifies death and realizes that if he dies then he can't hear the song " Now more then ever seems rich to die" and appreciates that the nightingale is immortal and the song will last forever. He comprehends that if he dies, the he will be taken away for the eternal world of the nightingale and the perfect world. The symbol and immorality of the bird and the morality of humans are juxtaposed together, thus emphasizing the difference between the real and ideal world Keats is portraying. It is ironical as Keats uses the same word to describe both the nightingale and the death, the bird sings will " full-throated ease" and death is also described as "easeful" " Thou wast not born for death, immortal bird!" this oxymoron seems to be contrasting and emphasizing the bird's joyful and endless singing to the morality of humans. " the bird represents the continuing presence of joy in life" (http://academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu/english/melani/cs6/nighting.html) The bird symbolizes the ideal beauty and world that can not die, this is contrasted with the real world and morality of humans. Keats uses vast amounts of imagery to portray the ideal world he is in, discovering beauty in nature, his imagination and death. The use of synaesthesia " I cannot see what flowers are at my feet" creates a sense of the opiated world and makes it seem more real and believable, showing his confusion. ...read more.

Conclusion

The poem ends with a question mar, which is significant because on a wider level the poem deals with complications and questions of life which emphasize the theme of illusion vs. reality which is portrayed throughout the poem. John Keats in the " Ode to a nightingale" uses a 'flight of fancy' as a means of escaping reality into a world of beauty and nature. This beauty and world is illustrated through the rich imagery used. This is a common technique used by poets from the romantic period, as these poets often go into an "opiated world" and come back facing reality and learning from their experience. The way John Keats approaches going in the ideal world is very effective in the use of diction, imagery, alliteration, juxtaposition and synaesthasia. Keats evokes the problems with human life and his long to escape into a world of beauty but when he comes back to reality he learns from his experience that humans are mortal and need to be alive and accept pain to hear the nightingale's " sweet " and everlasting song. The poem goes through Keats journey and stresses on the fact that Keats in unable to maintain the perfect world he has created because the human mind and his imagination will not allow it, thus forcing the reader to accept the reality and the harshness of life. ...read more.

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