Escape in Ode to a Nightingale and La Belle Dans sans Merci

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Escape in Ode to a Nightingale and La Belle Dans sans Merci The two poems, Ode to a Nightingale and La Belle Dans sans Merci, clearly portray Keats' treatment of the idea of escape. Both poems construct vivid illusions but insist on their desolating failure. In Ode to a Nightingale it is interesting that Keats chooses to use the nightingale as the main vehicle for his idea of escape. It is through the comparisons to the nightingale's life that all other forms of escape become apparent in this work. In the opening lines of the first stanza, one is introduced to the escapism that may come through alcohol and drugs. But I think what one is witnessing here is the fantasy of escape rather than escapism itself. "My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk," Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains.." However, the actual subject that Keats uses for the idea of escape is the nightingale. The nightingale has no experience of 'human life' and is all the better for it. At this point, the commonly held notion that one has to have known sadness to appreciate what happiness really is falls by the wayside, although one knows very little about a bird's perception. Hence, Keats' explanation of his envy: "Tis not through envy of thy happy lot, But being too happy in thine happiness,-" "..happy lot.." implies a certain contentment that fate has dealt out, whereas the nightingale appears to have something unique about its life as it is enshrouded with happiness. One feels that there is something so simplistic about it all. I think this is borne out by the following quotation: "Singest of summer in full-throated ease." I think "ease" is the key word here. It identifies with the total freedom from pa... ... middle of paper ... ...isses but the mouth is gaping instead, because he is shocked at the situation which is loveless. It is also interesting that Keats has made this into the scene of a battleground and the knight has lost badly. I think it is interesting how the last stanza answers the first stanza's question, and yet is almost the same in its use of words. Here, I think that Keats is showing that nothing has changed. The poem is static, and one ends how one begins. Thus, escapism was not worth very much perhaps. Works Cited Keats, John. "Ode to a Nightingale." The Norton Anthology World Masterpieces: the Western Tradition. Vol. 2. Ed. Sarah Lawall, Maynard Mack. 500th Fifth Avenue, NY: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1999. 606-608. Keats, John. “La Belle Dame Sans Merci.” 100 Best-Loved Poems. Ed. By Philip Smith. New York: Dover Publications. 1995. 47-48. Print.

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