Ode to a Nightingale Questions and Answers
by John Keats

Ode to a Nightingale book cover
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Explain these lines of "Ode to a Nightingale": "Away! away! for I will fly to thee, / Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards, / But on the viewless wings of Poesy, / Though the dull brain perplexes and retards: / Already with thee! tender is the night, / And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne, / Cluster'd around by all her starry Fays; / But here there is no light, / Save what from heaven is with the breezes blown / Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy ways."

In these lines of "Ode to a Nightingale," the speaker is addressing the nightingale, a nocturnal bird that is well-known for its lovely song. The speaker compares his poetry to the bird’s song and the inspiration for creativity to flight. The speaker evokes the contrasts between night and day, and darkness and light. Through referring to the small amount of light from the moon and stars and the winding paths among woods, the speaker evokes the difficulties of creating poetry.

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In these lines, the speaker expresses his desire to join the nightingale and fly far away from the human world. To do this, he doesn't need to get a ride from Bacchus, the god of wine; he can fly on the wings of poetry instead, even if human consciousness might make him a tad confused and slow him down. In any case, the speaker is already with the nightingale in his imagination.

The speaker then goes on, in true Romantic fashion, to describe the beauties of nature surrounding him. "Tender is the night", that is to say, the night is gentle and still. In the sky sits the Queen of the Moon upon her throne, surrounded by her stars. They are her servants. But where the speaker's standing it's a different situation. Here, it's dark, with only a small shaft of light peeping through the lush, gloomy trees and the winding, mossy paths.

This particular extract highlights the speaker's uneasy existence caught between this world, the world of the here and now, and the world of the imagination. The...

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