Please comment upon the following lines from "Ode to a Nightingale" by Keats.White hawthorn, and the pastoral eglantine; Fast-fading violets cover'd up in leaves; And mid-May's eldest child, The...

Please comment upon the following lines from "Ode to a Nightingale" by Keats.

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. 50

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 musèd rhyme,

To take into the air my quiet breath;

Asked on by hni

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accessteacher's profile pic

accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

You have quoted the second half of the fifth stanza and the first half of the sixth stanza of this famous poem. As always with these kinds of questions you need to be very careful that you look at any quotes you take from it in context of the stanzas that they come from and the poem as a whole.

Having said this, your quote begins by a description that paints a picture of the sensuous beauty of nature that surrounds the poet as he speaks. We are given images that deliberately appeal to our senses, as we can smell the "coming musk rose, full of dewy wine" and also hear the "murmurous haunt of flies" as they buzz around. The setting therefore seems to be entirely approrpiate for the speaker to engage on his flight of fancy as he considers the nature of beauty in the form of the nightingale.

The opening of the sixth stanza however creates a very different mood from the kind of natural beauty presented in the stanza immediately before. Instead of focusing on the beauty of his surroundings, the poet describes his own world-weary state and how he has yearned for death at times, being "half in love with easeful Death," seeing death as a release and an escape from the wearisome problems of the world that he suffers. Note how the mood of this section becomes morose, dispirited and passive as he contemplates dying.

marygronan's profile pic

marygronan | College Teacher | (Level 1) Honors

Posted on

The poet has been transported by his imagination to the joy of the nighingale's song in the trees. In this stanza the poet is in darkness and cannot see what is around him .He identifies the white hawthorn, the eglantine, the musk -rose. the violets by their smell and has worked out the season by the activity of the flies. It is almost summer.

Here in the dark he begins to distance himself from the nightingale and imagines himself wishing to die. He admits that he has often been "half in love" with death and has called upon it upon death to take him away. 

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