John Keats Essay, Research Paper
Escaping from everyday burdens is what all individuals attempt to do during
rough periods of life. John Keats does just that in his poem, ” Ode To A
Nightingale.” The song of the nightingale makes the reader wish to
escape from the dreariness of reality into another realm filled with bliss. Keats
succeeds in escaping to the world of the nightingale. The world fully symbolizes
a place of imagination. Keats uses great detail in figurative image to take the
reader along with him on his journey to another realm. The creative similies and
metaphors, are used with deep comparison which help to portray a vivid picture
to the reader. “Keats tempts to escape from the busy, painful world by the ineffable
‘requiem’ of the nightingale.”(Inglis 127). He no longer wants to face the daily
trials of life. Through his clear use of textured words, the image is easily
understood, allowing the reader to go along with Keats on his excursion filled
with fantasy. The perfect bliss lasts for sometime, then he once again is faced
with reality. His reality is a world where life is dark and beauty dies.
Stanzas 1-10 of the poem refer to when the poet starts to drif away by the song
of the nightingale. Keats finds the opening to another realm through his deep pain.
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 the Lethe-wards had sunk:
The terrible pain that is present within Keats is evident from the very beginning
of the poem. The song of the nightingale takes him into a trance that totally
submerges him. He mentions hemlock and opiate, both are sedatives which alter
the mind. The recognition of sedatives awakens the reader to acknowledge that
Keats is drifting off into the other realm. He no longer has a burdensome pain,
rather a deep and clear insight of beauty.
Yearning for escape, he suggests a drink of wine. This drink of wine will bring
him further to serenity and beauty (lines 11-20). In lines 21-30 he elaborates upon
his aspiration to flee away from the weariness of the world. He then hints to the
reader that poetry can indeed be an outlet to the burdens of everyday life.
Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget
What thou among the leaves hast never known,
The weariness, the fever, and the fret
Keats uses the image of leaves, which have not a care in the world to the illness
and agony of human life. He continues to flee in lines 31-40, altough at on point his
imagination is distorted (line 34).
Though the full brain perplexes and retards…..
This slight interruption of the trance is only for but a moment. Even though Keats
quickly snaps back into his trance, the words ‘full’ and ‘brain’ give the reader a
clear image that he no longer is in another realm. He is instead thinking about his
brain and how it is confused. If he was
in his tranced state, he would not be writing about the brain, he would be focused
on the beautiful visions of the nightingale. In line 35 he is once again in a far off
Already with thee! Tender is the night,
And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne,
Clustered around by all her starry Fays……
The image of fairies tells the reader that Keats has drifed once again. He then
continues to describe the thicket, where the nightingale sings (lines 41-50). In lines
51-60, Keats wishes for death to overcome him, then he could live in constant
bliss. “The nightingale is thought of as immortal, while its enjoyable
song had delighted past generations.” (Inglis 127). The last few lines gradually
return to a world of actuality and bring forth the fact that Keats can not truly escape
reality forever. Keats, the main speaker of the poem is addressing all individuals
who would be interested in succeeding to escape into another realm. The narrative
poem’s main actions include the moving from gloom to joyous beauty. The choice
of specific words create a tone that starts out dreary, which is resolved through the
beautiful song of the nightingale.
The first stanza clearly suggests dullness. The short sound and the constants is
‘numbness’, ‘drunk’, ‘dull’, and ’sunk’ all stop abrupty which make the reader think of
gloom. The suggestion of the wine then brings the reader to the awareness of
longing for escape.
Fade far away, dissolve,and quite forget…
This line has a distinct purpose, every stress is soft and light. The words
‘fade’,'dissolve’, and ‘quite’ all have a lightness to them. He is using soft and airy
words to free him from the pain of life. These words have an incredible texture to
them, they help the reader know what Keats goal is. On the contrary the words in
the following line stand out drastically.
What thou among the leaves hast never known…
There is an apparent harsh tone which eventually evolves into a clear insight to
fight the dreariness of the world through fantasy.
The phrase ’spectre-thin’ (line 26), jumps out to the reader. The phrase brings
out a sharp and sickly image. The words Keats uses in his drifting away stages
gives the reader a vision of illness. The contrast of dreadful illness and anticipated
beauty add to the clairty of image. In line 42 serenity is actually felt through the
words that hint of a soft scent.
Now what soft incense hang upon the boughs.
The next line uses words such as ‘embalmed’ and ‘darkness’, all these words add to
the whole concept of the scent and contrasting it to a darkness that remains.
Keats then uses the word ’seasonable’ to convey the thought of mildness and
lightness. His choice of words give the reader an idea of mildness with the thought
of ‘mid-may’. Once stanza six begins, the darkness fills the poet once again with
John Keats coveys to the reader with appropriate words how he is drifting off
into this other realm. His choice of clearly defined images allows the reader to
know when he is fleeing off into another world. The reader does not have any
question as to when he is in trance or when he is in tune with reality. Keats careful
selection of words and their sounds creates an image that is not only clearly
understood but is actually felt. John Keats has succeeded in taking the reader with
him on his escape to perfect bliss.