Discuss the following statement with reference to "Ode to the Nightingale."
"Ode to a Nightingale" poignantly depicts Keats' desire to immerse himself in the bird's song, be at one with its immortality and shake off the world where men sit and hear each other groan.
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This statement has a lot of truth in it, and there is certainly an element to which this poem represents the desire of Keats to be part of an eternal beauty that is represented by the song of the nightingale and stands in complete opposition to the ephemeral and transitory nature of man. This comparison is most clearly established in the following quotation:
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...
For Keats, the nightingale thus symbolises immortal beauty, that is something that only highlights his own mortality. As much as Keats experiences an other-worldly feeling as he contemplates the eternal beauty inherent in the song of the nightingale, eventually, he is brought back to himself and has to recognise and acknowledge that this temporary experience will not allow him to enjoy the same immortality that the song of the nightingale does. In many ways, this poem confronts the reader with eternal beauty only to snatch it away before the reader has begun to savour it. Keats therefore establishes the intense frustration of being human with the necessary mortality that this state implies.
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