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JOHN KEATS "Ode to a Nightingale"

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Mara Scarbrough

on 1 February 2013

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Transcript of JOHN KEATS "Ode to a Nightingale"

JOHN KEATS: Intro: Ode to a Nightingale "Ode to a Nightingale" is Keats MOST famous work.
An ode is a traditional Greek form of poetry that celebrates what the poem is dedicated too.
Keats wrote the poem in 1819 when he was visiting Charles Brown in Hampstead, England.
"Ode to a Nightingale" was a part of the collection of 1819 Odes. Mini-Greek History Lesson Like any good Romantic poet, Keats was a fan of the old Roman authors, especially the well-known poet Ovid. The history of the nightingale was explained "Metamorphoses", Ovid's famous collection of stories.
According to legend, Philomela is raped by her sister's husband and in order to keep her quiet he cuts out her tongue. She manages to tell her sister, and in a new sick twist Procne (her sister) decides to feed her son to her husband in revenge. When he figures out the plan, Tereus tries to kill the two sisters, but the gods transform the sisters into birds- Procne becomes a swallow and Philomela becomes the Nightingale. How does that relate at all to
"Ode to a Nightingale"? In the poem Keats wants to flee the world kinda like how Philomela escapes from Tereus. BAM. STANZA I 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 Lethe-wards had sunk:
'Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,
But being too happy in thine happiness,—
That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees,
In some melodious plot
Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,
Singest of summer in full-throated ease. And the meaning is..... The speaker kicks the poem off saying his heart hurts as if he has drunken some sort of poison <hemlock>. This poison works like opium causing him to "sink" into oblivion. -Lethe is a river in Hades that makes one forget all memories after drinking from it-. So, basically, he feels like he is on drugs.

In Line 5 the speaker first addresses the nightingale. The pain he feels is not because he is jealous of the birds happiness, but rather he is super happy for the birds happiness.

Then he explains why the bird is so happy. The bird gets to sit in the tree all day and sing in "full-throated ease". More allusions to mythology with the Dryad reference. A dryad is a tree nymph. STANZA II O, for a draught of vintage! that hath been
Cool'd a long age in the deep-delved earth,
Tasting of Flora and the country green,
Dance, and Provençal song, and sunburnt mirth!
O for a beaker full of the warm South,
Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,
With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,
And purple-stained mouth;
That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,
And with thee fade away into the forest dim: And the meaning is... The second stanza is all about drinking. The speaker longs for the temporary relief alcohol brings him. He just wants the wine to start flowing from the earth. so he can drink in the "flora" and "country green".

More mythology! Hippocrene is the fountain of the muses who inspire struggling poets.

The speaker wants to get drunk to leave the "world" <society, responsibilities, ect> so he can "fade" into the dark forest with the nightingale. Stanza III Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget
What thou among the leaves hast never known,
The weariness, the fever, and the fret
Here, where men sit and hear each other groan;
Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last gray hairs,
Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies;
Where but to think is to be full of sorrow
And leaden-eyed despairs,
Where Beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes,
Or new Love pine at them beyond to-morrow. And the meaning is... The third stanza explains the Speakers desire to fade away. He wants to escape the things the bird has never had to worry about <society/ life>.
Even in his happy dream he cannot escape the world. The speaker then goes on to describe the world full of "weary" and sick people.
Lines 25-26 portray the speaker as an old sick man, balding with palsy (a disease where one cannot control ones own body). Time is what the speaker is trying to escape, because time is what will turn beautiful people into "pale" old people, who then die.
The speaker believes the world of humans is a terrible place where ANY kind of thinking leads to worry, that then makes one want to just give up because nothing will last. STANZA IV Away! away! for I will fly to thee,
Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards,
But on the viewless wings of Poesy,
Though the dull brain perplexes and retards:
Already with thee! tender is the night,
And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne,
Cluster'd around by all her starry Fays;
But here there is no light,
Save what from heaven is with the breezes blown
Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy ways. And the meaning is... The speaker wants to fly away after the nightingale, BUT he knows that alcohol will not help him. So instead of wine he decides to use the WINGS OF HIS POERTY, to get there.
First his mind is slowing him down and then, presto, he is flying with the bird. The only light from the brilliant sky, is the moon light that breaks through the branches. The speakers imagery becomes more vivid when he joins the nightingale. Stanza V I cannot see what flowers are at my feet,
Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs,
But, in embalmed darkness, guess each sweet
Wherewith the seasonable month endows
The grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild;
White hawthorn, and the pastoral eglantine;
Fast fading violets cover'd up in leaves;
And mid-May's eldest child,
The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine,
The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves. And the meaning is... The fifth stanza the speaker is still in the NIGHTingale's NIGHTtime world. With out light he cannot see, but it is a game to him naming all the plants that he can smell in the darkness.
The scene he is describing consists of summer and spring fauna, showing that the Speaker is no longer in the world of reality, but rather a dream-like world with the bird.
The tone is excited and scattered; like the speaker is flitting around trying to take it all in at once. Stanza VI Darkling I listen; and, for many a time
I have been half in love with easeful Death,
Call'd him soft names in many a mused rhyme,
To take into the air my quiet breath;
Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
To cease upon the midnight with no pain,
While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad
In such an ecstasy!
Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain—
To thy high requiem become a sod. And it means... Sitting in the dark, listening to the Speaker begins to think about death. He begins to think death would be an escape from all the problems he wants to escape. He thinks it would be "rich to die". The connotation of the word rich is interesting. Most people think death of death as nothing, but the speaker sees death as full of good things. The speaker wants to go quietly in the night.

The speaker wants to die while listening to the song. The bird is lost in the "ecstasy" of the song, and the speaker wonders if he dies will the bird go on singing in the moments after his death, oblivious he is gone. The speaker would still have ears but he could no longer hear, so the birds song would serve as his "high requem"-a type of church service with music for a funeral. STANZA VII Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird!
No hungry generations tread thee down;
The voice I hear this passing night was heard
In ancient days by emperor and clown:
Perhaps the self-same song that found a path
Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,
She stood in tears amid the alien corn;
The same that oft-times hath
Charm'd magic casements, opening on the foam
Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn. And it means... The Speaker says the nightingale is immortal, not having to worry about children "hungry" to take replace them in society.

Talking about that makes him think how the birds sound has been around forever, and that it might not have been the same bird but Emperors and biblical figures (Ruth) alike all heard the "same" song.

He elevates the birds song to mystical proportions, saying it opens "magic" portals to other worlds, where when it flies out; the bird is gone in a strange land. STANZA VIII Forlorn! the very word is like a bell
To toll me back from thee to my sole self!
Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so well
As she is fam'd to do, deceiving elf.
Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades
Past the near meadows, over the still stream,
Up the hill-side; and now 'tis buried deep
In the next valley-glades:
Was it a vision, or a waking dream?
Fled is that music:—Do I wake or sleep? And the meaning is... In the eighth stanza the speaker is pulled back to reality with the first word, "Forlorn". He realizes that his imagination did not quite do the trick, and then criticizes his imagination for deceiving him.

He bids the bird "adieu" as the nightingale flies away, and the song becomes harder to hear as the bird flies further and further away from him.

Once the bird is gone, the speaker is not sure if he ever left. And then he questions reality, wondering if the birds world was reality, and he is now in the dream-state. 1795-1821 John Keats was born October 31, 1795 in London, England.
He was the son of Thomas and Frances Keats. His father was a stable-keeper was killed by a horse with John was eight.
After the death of his Father, John became interested in literature and the arts.
He attended Enfield Academy. John Clark, the school headmaster became a father-figure to Keats and encouraged the boy's interest in literature.
Frances remarried quickly after Thomas's death. JOHN KEATS: Poor financial decisions lost a great deal of the Keats's money, and after her divorce she abandoned John and his three siblings with her mother.
She eventually came back, but in 1810 died of tuberculosis.
While Keats was attending Enfield, his Grandmother hired Richard Abbey to handle the family accounts. Abbey was tight with the money and often would not let the children spend any of the money, and kept them in the dark as to the amount of money they had.
Abbey is believed to be the reason Keats left Enfield to become a surgeon. He became an licensed apothecary in 1816 after studying at Guy's Hospital. A medical career never took off for Keats. JOHN KEATS: EARLY LIFE EARLY LIFE BEGINNING OF POETIC CAREER Keats first met the publisher of the "Examiner", Leigh Hunt, through John Clark's son, Cowden.
Hunt was known for controversial publications, and had been jailed three years prior to meeting Keats.
Keats dedicated the sonnet "Written on the Day that Mr. Leigh Hunt Left Prison" to Leigh Hunt.
Hunt was instrumental in introducing Keats to the world of politics and to other noted poets such as, Percy Bysshe Shelley and Williams Wordsworth.
Keat's first volume of poetry, published in 1817, was title "Poems by John Keats". He published "Endymion" a 4000 line poem based on a Greek myth of the same name.
Keats would go on to write many more poems, despite the criticism he received for the rebellious writing in his first poems. JOHN KEATS: END OF HIS POETIC CAREER In the summer of 1818 Keats took a walking tour of Northern England and Scotland.
Keats returned home early to nurse his sick brother Tom, who would eventually loose his battle with tuberculosis.
While home Keats fell in love with Fanny Brawne.
In 1819 Keats contracted tuberculosis. and wrote his famous "1819 Odes".
Keats died on February 23, 1821 -at age 25- after going to Italy with Fanny (who he never married due to his health and career) and close friend Joseph Severn.
Keats career was short lived and in his life-time only sold 200 copies of his three volumes of poetry. BY: Nicholas Jackson, Mara Scarbrough, and Andrea Vancil Intro: Ode to a Nightingale An ode is a lyrical poem, characterized by heightened emotion, that normally shows adoration to a person/thing, usually directly addressed by the speaker. "Ode to a Nightingale" is a Horation ode named after, the Roman poet Horace. Horation ode's have a consistent stanza length and meter.
The poem has eight stanzas of ten lines
The meter of each line of the stanza (except for the eight) is in iambic pentameter. Iambic pentameter lines are ten syllables long with a long unaccented syllable followed by an accented one.
The rhyme scheme is ABABCDECDE. Intro: Ode to a Nightingale SPEAKER: The Speaker is an older man, struggling with reality and time. He uses his poetry and imagination to escape from his life. He bears a resemblance to Keats with his obsession with death, but Keats was a young man at the time, and not the poems speaker. SETTING: The poem is set both in and out of the woods. In the beginning the speaker is sitting outside the forest and the bird's song "draws" him into the middle of forest. He goes "back in time" to others who heard the song, then to the woods. Just as quickly as he slips into the dream, he is called back to reality and the woods become idyllic, but inaccessible as the nightingale flies away. Ode to a Nightingale Literary Devices: Personification: line 16 "full true of the BLUSHFUL Hippocrene." A spring cannot blush, it is personified as such because of its red color.
Alliteration: line 17 "with Beaded Bubbles winking at the Brim" Repetitio of the constant B.
Hyperbole: line 61 "Thou wast not born for death, IMORTAL BIRD". The bird is not immortal, Keats is trying to make the point that through the song the bird lives on.
Polysyndeton: line 26 "where youth grows pale AND spectre-thin, AND dies." Repeated use of and.
Allusion: line 42 "not charioted by BACCHUS and his pards," Bacchus was the Roman god of debauchery, fitting as the speaker realized drinking would not solve his problems.
Simile: lines 81-82 "Forlorn! the very word is like a bell to toll me back from thee to my sole self!" The speakers is pulled back to reality by the word "forlorn" like the ringing of a bell would.
"Ode to a Nightingale" John Keats Bibliography "John Keats Biography." Bio.com. A&E Networks Television, n.d. Web. 30 Jan. 2013. John Keats. N.d. nowrigglingoutofwriting.wordpress.comWeb. 31 Jan 2013. <http://nowrigglingoutofwriting.wordpress.com/john-keats/>. Keats, John . John Keats Signature. 2012. WikipediaWeb. 31 Jan 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:John_Keats_Signature.jpg>. Niuzzo Honaman, Catharine . "“Ode to a Nightingale”." PULSE. University of Arizona, 10 Nov 2009. Web. 31 Jan 2013. <http://pulse.pharmacy.arizona.edu/10th_grade/disease_epidemics/language_arts/ode_nightingale.html>. Keats, John . "“Ode to a Nightingale”." POETRY Foundation . 2013 Poetry Foundation , n.d. Web. 31 Jan 2013. <http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/173744>.
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