Wednesday, March 17, 2010

"Ode to a Nightingale"

As I read Keat's "Ode to a Nightingale," I noticed a very interesting relationship between the poet and the nightingale. A poem that focuses on the grim reality of death and seems to have a very somber tone is simultaneously, glorifying the immortality of poetry that is represented by the nightingale in the poetry. Although the nightingale, like a human, is a slave to death; there is something about the song that the nightingale sings that allows it to transcend their mortal and natural state to become more meaningful and everlasting. For Keats, the nightingale's song is parallel to his poetry like it typically did in the pastoral literary tradition. In fact, in stanza 4, he uses classical images like that of Bacchus to highlight the transciency of life and the importance of the song the songbird sings in contrast to death. The pastoral references and tradition are turned upside down as he focuses on death through a medidative/personal mode in contrast to the luring song that the nightingale sings. Like Dequincey's dependency and relationship to opium, it is the song that enables the nightingale to live even though it, itself, has experienced death.

1 comment:

  1. Daniela,

    I really liked how you connected Keats/Nightingale song to Dequincey/opium. Another interesting point is that Keats needs the song to survive as well as die. Keats says that "I have been half in love with easeful Death," because the nightingale song is an opiate for him, it takes away the reality of his painful death (because he is dying from Tuberculosis when he wrote this poem). By escaping on the "viewless wings of Poesy," the nightingale's song becomes part of the real world and the "imaginary" world of his poetry.