Ode to a Nightingale by John Keats

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Forlorn! What is poet saying in this stanza of "Ode to a Nightingale"? Forlorn! the very word is like a bell To toll me back from thee to my sole self! Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so well As she is...

Forlorn! What is poet saying in this stanza of "Ode to a Nightingale"?

Forlorn! the very word is like a bell To toll me back from thee to my sole self! Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so well As she is famed to do, deceiving elf. Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades 75 Past the near meadows, over the still stream, Up the hill-side; and now 'tis buried deep In the next valley-glades: Was it a vision, or a waking dream? Fled is that music:—do I wake or sleep?

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William Delaney eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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To understand this stanza of Keats' "Ode to a Nightingale" you have to go back to the beginning and understand what he says he is going to try to do in creating this poem. He is feeling very depressed because he knows he has tuberculosis and will soon die. He wishes he could use something to deaden his consciousness so that he could forget about his fear of death and the fact that he will not be able to realize his ambitions to write all the great poetry he feels capable of creating.

In the first stanza he mentions "hemlock," a poison, and "a dull opiate," a powerful drug. In the second stanza he wishes he had a big beaker of wine

That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,
And with thee fade away into the forest dim.

Escape is what he wants. He wishes he could be like the nightingale he hears singing nearby, which would be another form of escape from himself and his unhappy thoughts. Finally in the fourth stanza he decides, since he has no wine, that he will escape in his imagination by creating a poem in which he actually flies to join the nightingale, and he succeeds in doing so.

Already with thee! tender is the night . . .

(F. Scott Fitzgerald used Keats' "tender is the night" as the title of his best novel.)

In stanzas 5, 6, and 7 he imagines what the world of the nightingale is like. At one point he mentions wine again:

    And mid-May's eldest child,
The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine,
The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves.

In the seventh stanza, his vivid imagination carries him far away. He says that the immortal song of the nightingale is the same song that has

Charm'd magic casements, opening on the foam
Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.

He has succeeded--though only momentarily--in...

(The entire section contains 634 words.)

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