John Keats Poesy Essay Research Paper As

John Keats Poesy Essay, Research Paper

As one reads this poem of John Keats, the overwhelming feeling is the envy the

poet feels toward the nightingale and his song. He compared the carefree life of

the bird to the pain, suffering and mortality of men. He continually referred to

Greek gods and mythology when speaking of the nightingale as somehow the Bird

possessed magical powers. The speaker opened with the explanation "my heart

aches, and a drowsy numbness pains my sense" as he listened to the song of

the nightingale. He compared his feelings to those of a person that had drunk

"hemlock" or an "opiate" so that their senses had become

dull, or as if drinking from "Lethe-wards," a river of the lower

world, which produced forgetfulness of past life. Keats compared the bird to

that of a "Dryad," or a female spirit, which was assigned a certain

tree to watch over and whose life was so closely connected to the tree that if

it were to die so would the Dryad. Or perhaps in some mysterious way the

nightingale’s song were "some melodious plot" to enchant his listener.

He explained the reason for his envy as being "happy in thy happiness"

or because the bird sang so beautifully with "full throated ease."

Keats longs for the effects of liquor "draught of vintage" with the

taste of the country "flora and country green" which when consumed

brings "dance, song and mirth." He compares the song of the bird with

the song of his poetry when he wishes to be "full of the true?Hippocrene"

which was a mythical fountain on Mount Helicon that inspired poetically. He

reflected on the belief that unlike his poetry, the nightingale’s song would be

remembered for eternity, because the Bird’s tune would go unchanged, while his

words would fade with time, so he wished "that I might drink and leave the

world unseen." Wishing to drink and disappear, to "fade away into the

forest dim, fade far away" or rather to "dissolve and ?forget"

we see how desired to escape from life and the problems that all men must cope

with. He related how he felt about his life "weariness, the fever and the

fret" and the fact that all men "sit and hear each other groan."

Some of his lamenting came from his despair about aging, how "youth grows

pale and spectre-thin, and dies; where but to think is to be full of sorrow and

leaden-eyed despairs." In comparison to himself the nightingale seemed to

have a life of ease, sitting among the trees without a care, simply singing. He

told the nightingale to fly away "for I will fly to thee," yet rather

than be carried off by "Bacchus and his pard" the Roman god of wine

and intoxication, he wished to be carried off by "wings of Poesy."

This Poesy refers to Keats poetry and he realized that he would not be able to

compose while intoxicated, so he described this condition as "the dull

brain [that] perplexes and retards." Yet while he is with the nightingale

and her sweet song "already with thee! tender is the night" he

imagined the "Queen-Moon ?on her throne, cluster’d around by all her

starry Fays" or fairies; for it is said that only during a full moon may

one witness fairy dances. This alludes to the magical condition he believes the

nightingale possesses and how she is able to lead him to this world of lore. At

this time there is very little light to identify his surroundings, so his senses

were awakened as he recognized the "soft incense hang[ing] upon the

boughs" and detected the scents of the "fruit tree wild, hawthorn,

violets, the musk-rose full of sweet wine" and listened to the "murmurous

haunt of flies." As he sat in the dark listening, he contemplated his death

and related how he is "half in love with easeful Death" having written

many times about him or "call’d him?.in many a mused rhyme." At this

time Keats thinks it is a good time to die and do away with whatever pain he may

experience, as he said "seems it rich to die to cease upon midnight with no

pain" in comparison to the nightingale which is "pouring forth thy

soul abroad in such an ecstasy!" However he is quick to change this desire

when he contemplated the fact that the nightingale would continue to sing, even

if it be a sad song "thy high requiem" while he would be unable to

hear the music. He would in effect "have ears in vain." He admired the

nightingale as an "immortal Bird," that can not be saddened by

anything occurring around him "no hungry generations tread thee down."

The song of the bird would continue unchanged for eternity, therefore he

reflected on the past and all the people that had listened to the same song of

the nightingale "the voice I hear?was heard in ancient days by emperor

and clown." No distinction between the rich or the poor, the wise or the

foolish; for the same song was sung for all to enjoy. Continuing, he makes

reference to Ruth of the Bible "the sad heart of Ruth" and how she

resided in an alien land and may have listened to the nightingale while she

longed for home. At this point Keats no longer viewed the bird’s song as one of

joy but rather as one of sorrow or "forlorn" and he is drawn back into

himself losing his preoccupation with the nightingale. He bids the bird good-bye

"adieu!" speaking of it as a "deceiving elf." Perhaps he

feels he was deceived by the song into believing it was one of happiness yet now

he realizes the truth, that it is really a "plaintive anthem." As the

nightingale flies away "past the near meadows, over the still

stream?.[and becomes] buried deep in the next valley-glades," he wonders

if this was just a "vision, or a waking dream?.do I wake or sleep?"


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