An Analysis Of Keats 'Ode To A Nightingale'

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“Delightful scenes, whether in nature, painting, or poetry, have a kindly influence on the body, as well as the mind, and not only serve to clear and brighten the imagination, but are able to disperse grief and melancholy, and to set the animal spirits in pleasing and agreeable motions”. The most important consideration when asking if this quote from Joseph Addison is invariably true is the definition of the word delightful. If ‘delightful’ is taken to mean ‘causing delight’, then the quote above is indeed correct - but also implicit in the definition of the word itself, and thus inarguable, as Addison’s listed effects of delightful scenes is essentially just delight. Instead, the word delightful will be taken to refer to the poem itself …show more content…
Ode is instead a work of melancholic introspection, questioning the nature of death - indeed, the narrator imagines himself to be dead, as the sod (i.e. earth) beneath the singing nightingale (citation). This interpretation of the poem becomes even more apparent when it is considered that at least part of Keats’ poem has its origins in a twenty-line section from The Pleasures of Melancholy (citation), by Thomas Warton - the same section even contains the line: “Is there a pleasure like the pensive mood / Whose magic wont to sooth your soften 'd souls?” (citation). This form of introspective, soul-searching beauty is the crux of the poem, from the undying immortality of the Nightingale 's song to the ultimate end of the poem, where the narrator asks himself whether or not his encounter with the fantastic bird was real or merely a flight of fancy (citation). While the answer to that question is beyond the scope of this paper, the fact the poem poses the question is entirely within it - in fact, the question is demonstrative of the entire message of the poem. Rather than waxing upon the beauty of the nightingale (which instead remains mysterious, elusive, and then vanishes), or the tree under which the narrator sits - instead, the narrator concentrates the nightingale 's song - and the song is not beautiful, but rather haunting. Going further, in The Evolution of Keats’ Poetry, by Claude …show more content…
It instead fulfills a romantic view of nature, which, while beautiful - and certainly breathtaking - is not an image of a ‘delightful scene’. This poem fulfills as similar melancholy joy as Ode to a Nightingale did, though the overall themes and attributes of the two poems are vastly different. The overall message of the poem is man’s sorrow at the disorder caused by Winter’s fury, and his subsequent bewilderment at new, alien order that follows it. This effect on the man is profound - the “the Soul of Man dies within him, loathing life /And black with more than melancholy Views” (citation). While the poem fits neatly into the Christian narrative, with the storms of Winter being ultimately controlled by the all-seeing hand of God - seen here in the guise of The Father of Winter (citation), it is quite clearly not a charming poem. It is an awesome poem - awesome is used in its original meaning here - wherein the awe-inspiring power of God has the power to cause the villagers to hide around their fires (citation), but also to create “A crystal pavement, by the breath of heaven” (citation). This poem is not joyful or melancholy by nature, it is instead an examination of an incomprehensible creator - and the uncaring Winter which is bestowed upon mankind. The sorrow found within the poem is instead in man’s reaction to this turbulent storm, not in the storm

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