Ode to Nightingale Analysis

Ode to a Nightingale Summary and Analysis 

Ode to a Nightingale Summary

Ode to a Nightingale by John  Keats line by line summary and analysis 

Ode to a Nightingale is one of the master pieces of John Keats. The poem unfolds many shades of literary aspects as well as different shades of poet's personality. In this article, we will get the line by line analysis of the poem, Ode to a Nightingale. 

Analysis of Ode to Nightingale Line by Line 

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:

It is a beautiful moonlit night. The poet listens to the sweet melody of a Nightingale. He feels a sort of pain in his heart in excessive joy and his senses are slowly benumbed with the hypnotic effect of the exquisitely sweet song of the bird.

O, for a draught of vintage! that hath been
Cool'd a long age in the deep-delved earth,
Tasting of Flora and the country green,
Dance, and Provencal song, and sunburnt 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:

The poets wants to forget his world of sufferings by flying to the happy world of Nightingale. At first, he wishes to go to it by drinking rich wine.

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 grey 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 can not keep her lustrous eyes, 
Or new Love pine at them beyond tomorrow.

The poet is extremely tired of sorrows and sufferings of life. Hence, he wants to escape away from this world of sufferings by flying to the Nightingale's world of sweet song. This world of ours indeed, full of the weariness, the fever and fret. Here men sit and hear each other groan. Here paralysis causes terrible sufferings and brings about premature death. Here youth, beauty and love don't last long. They soon fade away and leave behind leaden-eyed despair. 

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Away! away! for I will fly to thee,
Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards,
But on the viewless wings of Poesy,

When we think over these sorrows and sufferings of human life our minds are filled with sorrows. So the poet wishes to go to the world of beauty and happiness where from the Nightingale sings to forget the painful chapters of his life. The Nightingale's world of sweet song is, indeed, a world of beauty to Keats. But the poet soon gives up the idea of flying to the Nightingale. He thinks that poetic imagination will be more powerful incentive means to take him away to the world of beauty where from the Nightingale sings. Hence, he exercises his strong imaginative faculty and flies to the Nightingale's world in romantic power.

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 can not 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 frost-free wild;
White hawthorn, and the pastoral eglantine;
Fast-fading violets cover'd up in leaves;

The night is indeed romantic. But here where the poet sits with the Nightingale in the grove moon beams can hardly enter because of thick leaves. So in darkness, the poet can not see what flowers are at his feet or hanging over his head. But in "embalmed darkness" he can guess each sweet flower with which spring has adorned every plant and tree. There are white hawthorn, pastoral eglantine, fast fading violets and big musk-rose, full of dewy wine. The bees are also attracted with the sweet scent of flowers and their sweet humming has filled the romantic bower.

Darkling I listen; and for many a time
I have been half in love with easeful Death, 
Call'd 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,

The poet feels very happy in the midst of this romantic situation and listens to the melodious song of the Nightingale. He now thinks it high time to die a painless death as the Nightingale is pouring forth its sweet melody abroad in such an ecstasy. 

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.

This thought of death, however, reminds the poet of the permanence of the beautiful song of the Nightingale and the impermanence of human life. In his ecstasy, the poet identifies the bird with its sweet song and calls it "immortal". It has no enemy and envious successor that we find in human society. It has been singing from time immemorial. Its song was heard in ancient days by Emperor and Clown. It was also heard by Ruth of the Biblical age when she stood in tears amid the alien corn. This song also charmed the lonely girl of enchanted castle standing at the window. In a word, this sweet song of the Nightingale has been delighting the hearts of various men and women in different ages.

Was it a vision, or a waking dream?
Fled is that music: - do I wake or sleep!

This thought of the lonely lady in the enchanted castle, at once, reminds the poet of his own lonely condition. By this time, the Nightingale flies away to a distant valley and the poet comes back to stern reality to feel and suffer again the pangs of life.

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