Ode to a Nightingale by John Keats

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Compare and contrast Keat's "Ode to a Nightingale" with Shelley's ode "To a Skylark."

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The speakers of both poems are deeply moved by the song of a bird. In Keats's case it is a nightingale, and in Shelley's case it is a skylark.

Keats, however, unlike Shelley, goes into a state of bliss in which he feels he is traveling and almost merging with the nightingale, which he calls an "Immortal" bird. He first says he wishes he could escape the weariness and pain of this world, where people age, or grow frail, and die. Then, he writes,

Away! away! for I will fly to thee,
Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards,
But on the viewless wings of Poesy . . .

In other words, he allows his imagination to take over, and he describes being in the intoxicating world of the nightingale. Near the end of the poem, he must return to the reality of this world, a situation he calls "forlorn." As the poem ends, he wonders if his vision of the bird is a vision or a waking dream, asking, "do I wake or sleep?"

Shelley, in contrast, keeps a distance from the skylark. He observes it rather than merging with...

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