Both Keats and Frost write about the pleasure and pain of human experience. Choose two poems and compose the ways in which the poets deal with these issues. Through out the poems – “Ode to a Nightingale” and “Birches”, both Keats and Frost shows us of their happy and beautiful human experience in the two poems, which are contrasted with the sadness and pain of their past. In “Ode to a Nightingale”, John Keats displays the quality of the pleasure of the human experience (in this case the human experience of encountering the nightingale) and also the pain and sorrow of the real world, so much that he wishes for a painless death so that he can forget the past and go for a heavenly escape. One of the reason why Keats display so much sadness in this poem is probably because of Keats’ younger brother had died the previous December and in this ode the poet attempts to come in terms with a world so cruel that:
“Youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies;” A world full of sorrow, which the nightingale cannot feel. In the first stanza, Keats describes a pleasure so powerful that it pains him, the pleasure in which the nightingale gives Keats it bringing a feel of numbness to the pain of the real world: “My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pain …as thought of hemlock I had drunk,” On the above quotation, we see a description of how the pleasure is so good that it hurts Keats by giving him a heart aches, we know this is because the sentence carry on by explaining that it feels like he has been drink hemlock (A drug drink that allows the drinker to feel no pain.) and it is the nightingale’s ability to be numbness that hurts Keats the most as Keats cannot get that. (The word numbness here does not really mean that it doesn’t get hurt, but numbness as in because the nightingale is not human, and therefore it has no family to lost, or no sense of sadness / won’t get depress because of losing a family members etc…)
However in stanza 2, his pains are beginning to have some sort of explanations, as he begins this stanza by wanting to escape by drinking more wine in his effort to escape and leave the world unseen. Then he explains why he wants to escape, showing all of the main reason of his pains, for example: “Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last grey hairs, Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies; Where but to think is to be full of sorrow And leaden-eyed despairs, Beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes, Or new love pine at them beyond tomorrow.” Here we can see that he explains by mainly telling us that life is short and even the beautiful people will one day lose their beauty and die too.
This is one main difference between Keats and Frost poems in the way they express their happy and sad feelings, as you have already seen above that Keats is very desperate and really want to leave the world, however Frost is not as desperate to his goals as Keats does, because he only wishes and dreams of going back, he does not imagine it as Keats does in his poem. Stanza 5, this is where Keats changed his idea and so that the character is wanting to take a painless death, as he play around with Death like love: “I have been half in love with easeful Death,” This shows a sense of humour and a sense of giving up. As if he’s gone mad, this shows just how much he wants to die now, and this is a good way to express his deepest feeling about his life and how much he want to die.
In the next stanza, he uses the example of the nightingale shows us that there will be sadness for mankind for the next centuries, this is a very strong way of telling what he thinks for sadness and death. Robert Frost also writes a lot about joy and pain, and deal with similar issues, however he does not have a deep sorrow in “Birches” as Keats does in “Ode to a Nightingale”. The poem is about a man which thinks about a type of tree – Birches, and when he saw a boy playing around the trees and climbing them, he started to look back at his childhoods where he was once “…swinger of birches.” and it is this missing of the past, that is cause that sorrow and sadness in him which is quite different to Frost’s death and escaping.
The idea of wanting to be a child a again to experience all of this climbing around the trees and playing so that he can experience joy again is very important in this poem: “I’d like to get away from earth awhile And then come back to it and begin over” “I’d like to go by climbing be a birch tree, And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk Toward Heaven…” Both of these tells as that how much he wants to be a child again, unlike Keats who didn’t have a good time when he was young, Frost did, and what Frosts wants was to go back for more, which means that Frost must have had a good time when he was young, but maybe not later as he was old where he might be having a lots of frustration and lots of pressures on him and his life.
One of the ways in which Frost shows of his pleasure was to actually tell what he did by using an example and in this case he used a child who was playing baseball and climbing on the birches. And “Birches” is mainly about this point, until the very last section, he changed the mood, by adding parts about his pain, of wanting and desperate to go back and be a child again, so that he can be a swinger of birches again. Frost ‘s “Birches” also kind of tells of the pleasure of being young, and all of the freedom and excitement that you get when you are a youth. We clearly see these in the middle section and through out “Birches”.