Ode to Nightinggale

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In his poem, Ode to a Nightingale, John Keats allows readers to explore the depths of his thoughts as he undergoes an encounter with a nightingale. He explains that he becomes so happy and captivated by the song of the nightingale that all he seeks to do is escape from his life. At first Keats believes he can only escape with the help of wine, but then realizes that he would rather use poetry and his imagination, which he believes are immortal and permanent, as a means of reaching an existence comparable to that of the nightingale. Indeed, Keats employs literary allusions, the symbolism of the nightingale, and overall descriptive metaphors and imagery to compare the immortality of the nightingale and art itself, with the mortality and painful existence of humanity.
In the first stanza of the poem, Keats is so mesmerized by the nightingale’s song that he tries to convince himself that alcohol and drugs are the only way for him to escape the misery of the human existence. In line 2, the author references hemlock when discussing his state of mind while listening to the nightingale’s song. Hemlock happens to be the poison that the Greek philosopher Socrates consumed when he was put to death. This allusion is significant because Keats is trying to express how the song of the nightingale causes his heart to ache and feel numb, as if he has just drunk poison. This ache that the author feels is not a painful one though, rather he is implying that the ache he feels is somewhat pleasurable, and he desires to feel this way even more so. In fact, Keats continues to speak of the way he feels by stating that he feels as if he “…emptied some dull opiate to the drains/One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk” (Line 3-4). The author alludes to ...

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Ode to a Nightingale is a poem in which the author experiences a conflict in which he desires to flee from the human world, but cannot seem to find a manner to do so. At first, Keats convinces himself that drugs will alter his mind enough that he will be able to escape the world with the nightingale, but he soon realizes that a more permanent solution would be to use poetry and art to escape. Indeed, the captivation he feels at the hands of the nightingale is symbolic for how it is actually art that captivates Keats and allows him to feel a sense of immortality and happiness. However, he realizes that he can never escape death, for humans are doomed by their mortality. As the nightingale departs at the end of the poem, it signifies how one cannot use poetry to escape life forever, because even though poetry is immortal and lives on, man must eventually die.

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