Please explain some of the uncommonly used or unfamiliar words in the poem, "Ode to a Nightingale".

Expert Answers
linda-allen eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It would be easier to give you an answer if you would give us the specific words you don't understand. That said, let me explain some of Keats's vocabulary for you.

Throughout this poem, Keats alludes to Greek and Roman mythology.

  • Lethe-wards, in line 4, refers to one of the rivers of Hades. Anyone who drank its water would forget everything he or she knows.
  • a Dryad, line 7, is a wood nymph, or a goddess that watches over trees
  • Flora, line 13, refers to plants
  • Hippocrene, line 16, is a fountain that is sacred to the Muses, the goddesses responsible for inspiring all artists
  • spectre-thin, line 26, is a way of saying "very thin"; "spectre" is another word for "ghost"
  • Bacchus and his pards, line 32, refers to a painting by Titian, a Renaissance artist. In the painting, Bacchus and Ariadne, Bacchus is standing in a chariot being pulled by leopards. Bacchus is the god of wine and revelry. I've pasted a link to a picture of that painting below.
  • Poesy, line 33, is a personification of poetry. Keats rejects Bacchus for the "wings of Poesy"
  • Fays, line 37, refers to fairies

Ruth, in lines 66 and 67, is not from mythology but is an allusion to the biblical book of Ruth.

I hope this helps you.

momal | Student

Keats use many different types of words , metaphers, epithets ..  As linda ellen explained the meaning and i ll explain as what he sys about these particular things... he says in 2nd stanza that i want the vine which has the taste of flora ( godess of flowers) although if u see flowers are never added to vine.. he says give me a vine of Provencal(a place in france famous for its dance and enjoyment) he explained that when i ll drink that the purple color would cover his lips and the bubbles will rise from brink to the top... then in 4TH STANZA he says that if u wont take me in ur world i wont fly in the chariot of BACCHUS(God of vine whose chariot is moved by leopards) but i will use my imaginations to come to ur world and forget my pains......   DROWZY NUMBNESS PAIN is a metapher.                        FULL THROATED EASE is oxymoron as when we speak at the fullest of our voice our throat is never at ease but he uses ease with it...                         MELODIOUS PLOT is a EPITHET......... Mount Helicn is where all the Muses live...Hippocrene is the water where Pegasus on Mount Helicon rubbed his feet and the water flew from it , keats is calling that Hippocrene as vine flowing the mount..Hippocrene responsible for art as well .. i hope it would help u abit if not more...