Give a practical criticism of "The Nightingale" by Samuel Taylor Coleridege.

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem "The Nightingale" is written in iambic pentameter, a meter that fits the English language especially well, with some variations in the stanza-first lines and stanza-final lines: (e.g., "And I know a grove ..."; "Lights up her love-torch."). The theme states that although many poets follow the poetic conceit that the nightingale's song is melancholy (""Most musical, most melancholy" bird!"), the nightingale is in point of fact not melancholy because "In Nature there is nothing melancholy."

Coleridge is declaring the Romantic period tenet that lauds nature and idealizes it along with idealizing all aspects of the pastoral country life. He furthers his theme by stating that a poet's task is that he "Should make all Nature lovelier." Coleridge's final pronouncement is that his baby boy, who already can be moved from tears to smiles by the moon, should grow up to well understand that nature found in the nighttime is the inspiration of joy and not the inspiration of melancholy.