How does Keats personify the Nile River in "To the Nile"?

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Keats personifies the Nile River by addressing the river directly, asking it questions and suggesting that it has the capacity for experience, intention, and emotion.

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Keats personifies the Nile first by addressing the river directly in the second person. He does this insistently throughout the poem, calling the Nile "thee" and "thou," terms that were already rather archaic at the beginning of the nineteenth century but that also suggest familiarity.

The poet gives the Nile various human functions. It is a son, a chief, and a nurse. He questions the Nile and endows it with emotion and intention as well as the capacity for experience when he says that the river "tastes" the "pleasant sunrise."

Throughout the poem, Keats contrasts the great river itself with those who observe and comment on it. He asks if the Nile, which is surrounded by desert, is truly fruitful, or if it merely beguiles the traveler into thinking so. This questioning is itself a form of personification, but Keats goes beyond this effect to make the river wiser than the men, who fail to understand it.

Keats, therefore, personifies the Nile in a number of ways but ultimately presents the river as something that has human qualities but goes beyond humanity in some mysterious way. This gives the poem the quality of a prayer, which is increased by the use of thee and thou, forms of the second-person pronoun often reserved for God.

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What is Keats saying about the Nile River in the final four lines of "To the Nile"?

In the last four lines of "To the Nile," the speaker compares the Nile to other rivers. It may have deep roots in mythology, a foreign mystique, and a reputation for special fertility, but in the end, the Nile is simply a river, just like all the rest.

The Nile, the speaker remarks, bedews "Green rushes." In other words, the plant life that surrounds it and is in it is not at all unusual. Rushes grow in all rivers, taking their nourishment from the water. The Nile is no different. The "pleasant sunrise" shines over the Nile, just like it does everywhere else. The Nile tastes the sunrise as it reflects the colors of the sky.

Further, the Nile has its share of "Green isles," those little fresh places in the midst of the stream that all rivers have and that provide a delightful contrast to the rushing waters. Finally, just like all rivers, the Nile flows "happily" to the sea.

The Nile, then, is just like every other river in the world in many ways. It does not carry anything particularly special in its nature. It is simply part of of the landscape. People have imbued it with a character, a glamor, and a reputation that it does not carry in itself.

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