Can you explain what Keats means in these lines from "Ode to a Nightingale"?Now more than ever seems it rich to die, To cease upon the midnight with no pain, While thou art pouring forth thy soul...

Can you explain what Keats means in these lines from "Ode to a Nightingale"?

Now more than ever seems it rich to die,

To cease upon the midnight with no pain,

While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad

In such an ecstasy! Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain—

To thy high requiem become a sod.

Asked on by hni

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linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

John Keats was dying from tuberculosis when he wrote this poem, indeed, when he wrote most of his poetry. The disease was called consumption in Keats's time, and that was a good name for it. The lungs are literally consumed by the disease until the sick person is left to suffocate to death. In the lines preceding the ones you have quoted, the poet says:

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;

 

So he has been ready to die for some time. But now, with the nightingale's song in the air, "Now more than ever seems it rich to die." What a beautiful way to end such ugly suffering.

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