person with eyes closed, dreaming, while a nightingale sings a song

Ode to a Nightingale

by John Keats

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"Tender Is The Night"

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Context: In this famous ode the poet sings of leaving the harsh realities of the world, in which he is not happy. He asks that he might drink from some vintage that would take him to the nightingale "away in the forest dim," where there is no weariness, no fretting, no old age, no death come too soon. This thought is one that comes to him when, as he says, "My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains/ My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,/ Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains one minute past. . . ." In the fourth stanza of the poem the poet refutes the idea of some potion to bring happiness, regardless of its vintage. Instead, he says, he will fly away "on the viewless wings of Poesy" to the world of the nightingale and its beauty and happiness. The quotation is also famous, of course, as the title of an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel.

Away! away! for I will fly to thee,
Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards,
But on the viewless wings of Poesy
Though the dull brain perplexes and retards:
Already with thee! tender is the night.
And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne,
Clustered around by all her starry Fays;
But here there is no light,
Save what from heaven is with the breezes blown
Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy ways.

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