What is John Keats' attitude towards the Nile in his poem "To the Nile"?

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In the poem "To the Nile," Keats addresses the Nile, questioning whether it is truly "fruitful" or whether it is simply able to "beguile" those who live in the desert around it because it is the only source of water for many miles. Ultimately, however, the speaker puts these "fancies" behind him and praises the "green isles" of the river as it flows "happily" to the sea.

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The speaker admires the river. Note that he calls the Nile "Chief" of the pyramids and the crocodiles. That is to say, the Nile is the leader or guiding force of culture (pyramids) and nature (crocodiles). The Nile has been the "nurse" of many African nations. Here, the speaker notes how the river has helped civilization develop along its banks. Without this great river, these civilizations would not have developed so well or they would have developed elsewhere. Being along a large river or a body of water helps a society in terms of having a water supply, transportation, ports, fish, and so on. The Nile has clearly been useful for a number of societies, namely ancient Egypt. 

The speaker says the Nile is fruitful, but then asks if this is actually true. Is the Nile fruitful or does it just "beguile" (charm) those who live on its banks to stay there and develop their societies? The speaker supposes that the Nile would have to be fruitful and charming to keep societies near even though the northern part of the river is surrounded by desert. Despite all of the grandeur and charm of the river, the speaker concludes that the Nile is also like all rivers: 

Green rushes like our rivers, and dost taste 
The pleasant sun-rise, green isles hast thou too, 
And to the sea as happily dost haste. 

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Summarize the poem "To the Nile."

The beginning of this Petrarchan sonnet examines the long and respected history of the Nile River. Its tone is formal and reverent as it alludes to the life-giving qualities of the river. The language conjures visions of the Greek God Nilus, who was in fact the god of the Nile River, and the speaker uses inversion in the first line to place an emphasis on place: Africa. Often thought of as the "cradle of civilization," the Nile River is associated with both "the Pyramid and Crocodile." The definite article is a reminder that the Nile is ruler over this land, serving as its ultimate "Chief." It cuts through areas of "desert" spaces, providing a birthplace for numerous nations since the beginning of the world. The Nile is the "nurse" of many nations, providing nourishment and sustenance.

Rhetorical questions begin to shift the tone of the poem, and in line 9, there is a definite change in the speaker's perception of the Nile. Instead of viewing the Nile much like a god, the speaker considers that "our rivers," likely referring to those in Keats's own native country of England, are just as "green." The Nile "dost taste / the pleasant sunrise," much the same as all rivers do each morning.

There is thus a sense that the Nile, like all rivers, connects us to the "sea" of life. Life-giving waters sustain us and connect us as we rest between the spaces "'twixt Cairo and Decan" along life's journeys.

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Summarize the poem "To the Nile."

"To The Nile" is a Petrarchan sonnet, a fourteen-line poem adhering to a conventional rhyme scheme and structure. In Petrarchan sonnets like this one, there is a point of division between the first eight lines and the final six, marking a turning point in the poem.
Keats is addressing the Nile itself, an example of the technique of apostrophe, or appealing to something that is not present or cannot hear. Keats describes the Nile as the "Chief of the Pyramid and Crocodile," addressing it almost as if it were a god. However, he quickly goes on to question why exactly the Nile is considered to be so fruitful. After all, a "desert" stretches as far as the eye can see, a desert in which "swart nations" have lived since the beginning of time.
Keats questions, then, whether the Nile really is especially fruitful, or whether it simply has the capacity to "beguile" everyone who lives in the vicinity, because the Nile is the only place for them to rest "twixt Cairo and Decan." Keats is pondering whether the Nile has been so hailed purely because those who encounter it are so grateful to come upon a river in a land of such desert.
However, at this point, the first octet ends and the tone of the poem changes. Keats expresses a hope that his "dark fancies" are wrong and dismisses them as "ignorance"—which is, itself, the cause of the land's barrenness. He concludes by stating that the Nile is the source of "green rushes" and "green isles," and that it rushes happily to the sea. He is keen to put behind him the dark idea that the Nile is not truly as great a river as is usually believed.
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Summarize the poem "To the Nile."

"To the Nile" is a sonnet written by John Keats about the Nile River in Egypt. As a Petrarchan sonnet, it divides into an octave (first eight lines) and a sestet (last six lines). In the octave, Keats addresses the Nile with second person pronouns: "thee" and "thou." He personifies or even deifies the river, calling it the son of the African Moon-mountains and the "Chief of the Pyramid and Crocodile." Capitalizing "Pyramid" and "Crocodile" suggests those terms stand for more than a single structure or reptile; Keats presents the Nile as god of the world of men and animals. However, immediately upon conferring that honor upon the river, he begins to question whether the river deserves its reputation. He asks whether the river is really "fruitful," although that is commonly said. He proposes the river only "beguiles" men to revere it because it is the only game in town, so to speak. 

The beginning of the sestet is where the volta, or change, typically occurs in a Petrarchan sonnet. The perspective changes from what has only been suggested to a clear affirmation that the river is not as great as its reputation: "O may dark fancies err! They surely do." The speaker now claims that anything that "makes a barren waste" of everything around itself is "ignorance." By this he means that if the Nile were truly a god, its "fruitfulness" would extend into the deserts of Egypt, and the whole country, not just the Nile river's banks and delta, would be lush. The poet then goes on to describe the river as a mere river--not as anything to be revered. It has green islands and rushes, it gleams in the sun, and it flows to the sea, just "like our rivers," meaning England's. 

Interestingly, this poem was the result of a writing challenge that John Keats, Leigh Hunt, and Percy Shelley engaged in one evening. They allowed 15 minutes for each poet to write a poem about the Nile River. Upon reading the other sonnets, Leigh Hunt, their host that evening, declared himself the loser. Shelley's contribution was "Ozymandias," which has become a well-known and beloved poem, but which certainly violated the rules of the contest by not discussing the Nile. Keats' poem is consistent with his love of lush nature scenes. It seems to have bothered him that the Nile, while providing some greenery to Egypt, was powerless to affect the "barren waste of all beyond itself."

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Explain the poem "To the Nile " by John Keats.

As an educator addressed in the previous response, Keats's speaker concludes at the end of the poem that the Nile is just like any other river, despite the myths surrounding it. Keats wrote during a time when the British Empire was beginning to take an interest in Africa, just before the British colonization of Africa that occurred towards the end of the 19th century. In this sense, the poem may be a reflection on the way the British exoticized the Nile, Egypt, and Egyptian and African cultures. The British viewed these cultures as mysterious, foreign, magical, and less civilized. 

In the lines "O may dark fancies err! They surely do, / 'Tis ignorance that makes a barren waste / Of all beyond itself," Keats could be hinting at the ways in which these overly romantic fantasies of Africa are grave misconceptions and can lead to errors. Keats then tells us that this river is just like "our rivers," meaning the rivers in England. He could be telling us here that appreciating one's home and native country, rather than fantasizing about faraway lands, is important. He might also be implying that we can better understand these faraway lands if we also notice their similarities to our home culture, rather than viewing them as dark and mysterious.

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Explain the poem "To the Nile " by John Keats.

The poem "To the Nile" by John Keats is a sonnet. It is written in the form of a Petrarchan or Italian sonnet, consisting of an octave rhymed abbaabba and a sestet rhymed cdcdcd. It is written in iambic pentameter, with initial trochaic substitutions in first two lines and occasional metrical substitutions throughout the poem. 

The poem is written in the second person, with an unidentified speaker using direct address to talk to the Nile. The Nile is personified, addressed almost as a sentient being.

The poem describes the course of the Nile, flowing from sub-Saharan mountains to the Mediterranean sea, and how it fertilizes the desert and caused Egypt to become great, a fertile oasis within a desert. 

In the octave the Nile is described as something alien and almost supernatural, but in the sestet the speaker realizes that despite its role in myth and history, it is not very different from any other river. 

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How does John Keats use language to describe the Nile?

Keats's poem “To the Nile” is, as its name suggests, addressed to the large river that flows through Egypt. The poet makes use of several literary devices to convey a sense of its character and describe its features. Keats begins with a metaphor, describing the Nile as “son of the Moon-mountains African!” Here, Keats is referring to the “Mountains of the Moon,” a legendary mountain range at the source of the Nile in east Africa. By stating that the river is the “son” of these mountains, he expresses the idea of the river emerging out of, or being produced by, these mountains. (As a side note, the Mountains of the Moon were never found, although scholars have put forward a number of candidates for the title). Another metaphor follows: “Chief of the Pyramid and crocodile!” This suggests the Nile is all-powerful in Egypt, ruling over all aspects of life. Keats employs descriptive terms to convey the sense of the Nile as creating or helping to sustain life. It is “fruitful” and a “nurse.” The river is then placed in sharp contrast to the barren surrounding land: “A desert fills our seeings inward span.” Keats concludes his poem by referring to the “ignorance that makes a barren waste of all beyond itself.” Here, he is pointing to the way the barren land is ignorant of (doesn't know) the Nile and its “fruitful” qualities. He finishes by comparing the Nile to “our rivers,” by which he means those in Britain and Europe, writing, “Thou dost bedew Green rushes like our rivers, and dost taste The pleasant sunrise. Green isles hast thou too, And to the sea as happily dost haste.”

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