John Keats Questions and Answers

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What comparisons can be made between Keat's "Ode to a Nightingale" and "Ode to Melancholy?"

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Notwithstanding the obvious comparison that both poems are odes--lyric poems of elaborate form and exalted or enthusiastic emotion--both works are Romantic in nature, exhibiting a typical  characteristics.  For one thing, they find beauty in simplicity and plainness as well as in human emotions. Keats reflects on the "sweet-unrest" of his feelings in communion with Nature in both odes, accepting melancholy as a desirable experience.  In lines 15-18 of "Ode on Melancholy," the poet urges his reader to

glut thy sorrow on a morning rose,/Or on the rainbow of the salt sand-wave,/ Or on the wealth of globed peonies;

In another juxtaposition, Keats contrasts positive feeling with melancholy in lines 21-25:

She dwells with Beauty--Beauty that must die;/And Joy, whose hand is ever at his lips/Bidding adieu; and aching Pleasure nigh,/Turning to Poison while the bee-mouth sips

Similarly, in "Ode to a Nightingale, Keats makes this same juxtaposition, the simplicity of the bird's song and making of its nest in Nature with melancholy feeling:

Darking I listen, and, for many a time/I have been half in love with easeful Death/Call'd him soft names in many a mused rhyme (ll. 51-53)

And, as in "Ode to Melancholy," Keats also senses the difference between him and Nature.  While in "Melancholy" he urges the reader to not tie his sorrow to Nature in lines 5-10, in "Nightingale" the bird "hast never known/The weariness, the fever, and the fret" (ll. 22-23).

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