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Poet’s Journey with Fancy and Death as Presented In- "Ode to a Nightingale"

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ANS: This journey with fancy and death has started from the first stanza where the poet tries to make us think that the poet is drunk and uses “hemlock”, “opiate” and a kind of unique drink that tastes like “tasting of Flora”. All these refer to the trance situation of the poet who is having the imaginative journey and is trying to escape with the nightingale. The journey starts with a pain “heart aches”, refers to the symbolic heart that is having the drunkenness because of the spiritual drug from the nightingale’s song. The title of the poem gives a touch of poet’s journey, where the “Nightingale” is not only bird’s name rather it is used to refer the symbol of celebration of life, which is about the ‘fancy’ of the poet and the symbol of ‘death’.

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Poet’s imagination of fancy gets powerful when he gives the description of metaphoric wine by “blushful Hippocrene” that leaves the mouth with “purple” stain. He wants to sip this pure wine, the source of artistic skill that will trigger a poet’s intellect of literature. In the poem, he expresses his desire to transcend from the boundary of harsh reality by “world unseen” but he is unable to do so due to his illness that is reminding him and making his brain perplexed and dull which does not let him to fully concentrate in writing. Keats is longing for the escapism from the world because it is full despair, which has been expressed in the third stanza by “palsy”, referring to the old people suffering from the paralysis and by “spectre-thin” referring to young people growing thin as a ghost then die. For these, he thinks the nightingale’s world is much better that is why he wants to flee with nightingale. Thus he celebrates life’s simplicity in listening to that enchanted song of the nightingale.

For the journey, the poet uses a metaphor for referring flight by “wings of Poesy” means with the help of his own poetry wings he will run away with the nightingale in the middle of the night where is “no light” mentioned. In the journey with fancy and death, the poet expresses the darkness of night by “embalmed darkness” referring to both artificial and natural process, one is mummification process and another one is about the forest fragrance. The beautiful description of the forest is another attraction for the reader to understand the fancy of the poet, where he uses “White hawthorn”, “pastoral eglantine”, “violets”, and “musk-rose” in the fifth stanza. Poet also uses “Darkling I listen” to put emphasis on the darkness of the night.

There is a beautiful expression of the poet about death in the poem by “half in love with easeful Death” referring to the welcoming gesture of the poet who is not afraid of death rather he calls it “soft names” because he thinks if he dies while writing, the pain will be less than not being able to write due to the sickness. He wants to flee with the nightingale, which he thinks such a relief expressed in the poem by “ecstasy”. Poet also imagines his death and compares nightingale’s song with a musical composition in the poem by “requiem”, which is performed during someone’s funeral.

In the poem, the nightingale is shown as a symbol of the everlasting beauty, which is an “immortal bird” and free from all the sufferings expressed in the seventh stanza by “hungry generations” that “tread” the human beings down. In the middle of the seventh stanza, the poet realizes that the immortal bird is not meant for death and the song he is listening to is the same song that has been heard by the Ruth and also others from the primitive time expressed by “self-same song”.

The poet gets consciousness about his own mortality which is expressed by “sole self” in the poem. In the eighth stanza, he compares the fancy with a wicked elf who likes to bluff people and which is making the poet think that he could flee with the nightingale to become immortal. The poet bids the nightingale in the poem by “Adieu!” and he is confused between his fancy and the death, where he ends the ode asking two stylistic questions about his thoughts whether an illusion, expressed in the poem “a waking dream”.

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