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What is Keats' description of nature in "Ode to a Nightingale."

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lakshmisivan | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 14, 2009 at 9:27 PM via web

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What is Keats' description of nature in "Ode to a Nightingale."

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 14, 2009 at 9:50 PM (Answer #1)

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Keats' description of nature is a powerful one in the poem "Ode to a Nightingale."  Keats uses nature as a way to express personal emotions.  The Romanticist idea of nature reflecting the human sense of self is abundantly present in the poem.  The opening lines represents this.  The speaker, presumably Keats, hears the song of a nightingale.  The beauty and intrinsic purity of this sound shows the authenticity of nature, something that he wishes he would have as he is concerned with his own state of mortality.  The language here reflects a strong desire to connect with nature with the employment of terms like "Flora" and "country green" and "sunburnt mirth."  All of these images create the understanding of nature as an element of perfection, reflecting the authenticity that human beings can only hope to replicate, seen in Keats' own admission of wishing to "fade away in the forest dim."  Keats continues this desire to find the ideal world of nature in his own life when he identifies with the world of Nightingale, who is immersed deep in the natural setting.  This conception of nature reveals "embalmed darkness" and a strong growth of "grass," "thicket", and "fruit trees."  This rendering of nature as lush and bounty is one where Keats hopes to duplicate the wholeness and complete sense of nature in his own incomplete and fragmented existence.  Even in the midst of natural death, nature continues to give and regenerate life, almost "eternal life."  In the final analysis, Keats realizes that his own mortality will not be able to sustain such a vision, and represents his sense of envy of the natural world.  When he wonders if his experiences was a dream, it does not obscure the fact that the natural world's sense of immortality represents the very essence of human desire.

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