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    Ode to a Nightingale and Ode on Melancholy John Keats Essay

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    John Keats’ essay. The poems written by John Keats are primarily concerned with the conflicted nature of the human existence as they look at the human state often with sadness, beauty and the imagination of one’s mind. The metaphysical world, beauty in nature and classical idealism are all pondered upon in Keats’ poems as these ideas are evidently indicated in the two poems “Ode on Melancholy” and “Ode To A Nightingale”. The metaphysical world relating to immortality and mortality constantly appears in Keats’ two poems “Ode on Melancholy” and “Ode to a Nightingale”.

    In the second line of the first stanza Keats’ talks about “Wolf’s bane” which is a poisonous plant often used to commit suicide. Keats’ advises us not to think about suicide and take poisons such as wolf’s bane when melancholy is around. The first two lines of the third stanza in “Ode to a Nightingale”, “Fade far away, dissolve and quite forget what thou among the leaves hast never known” tells the readers that he wants to fade away and disappear with the birds which in this line, are expressed as “thou among the leaves”.

    The persona is trying to escape using alcohol to become transient. In the last two lines of stanza one in ”Ode to Melancholy”, For shade to shade will come too drowsily, and drown the wakeful anguish of the soul”, Keats is trying to deliver the message that melancholy is undoubtedly part of the human condition. He is also aware of the lengthy process in having to endure suffering and pain sequentially to experience joy and content. Keats’ view on the metaphysical world is also explored in the third stanza of “Ode to a Nightingale”.

    The third and fourth line “Here, where men sit and hear each other groan ; Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last grey hairs” are all images of aging as “palsy” is a shaking movement of most elderly and “last grey hairs” is something an aged person would have. These images of aging leads to anguish which leads back to mortality because humans will all age as we are not immortal like the nightingale’s song. The metaphysical world is also depicted in “Ode on Melancholy” in stanza two in the lines “And hides the green hill in an April shroud;” In this line, he rain that stops vision is symbolized as “shroud” , also a death reference as it was placed on someone’s head when they died. This rain hides the view of the green hill in an April shroud. “April” frequently signifies spring which also symbolizes rebirth. This idea is established in the first stanza as Proserpine is mentioned. Keats’ use of his final metaphysical world ideas in “Ode to a Nightingale” are highlighted in the very last stanza. ”To toll me back from thee to my sole self”, the persona realises that he cannot escape the fact that he is a mortal being and he has to go back to reality.

    Keats’ refers “deceiving elf” to the bird who he finds misleading for the reason that it made him feel as if he was immortal. When being contrasted, “Ode on Melancholy” and “Ode to a Nightingale” are similar in the way that they both present the theme of the metaphysical world. The two poems both have vivid images of death, suicide and lament as well as the views on mortality and immortality in each poem. They are also similar in the way immortality is juxtaposed to Keats’ mortal self. Another key idea that is reflected in the two poems “Ode on Melancholy” and “Ode to a Nightingale” is the beauty in nature.

    This beauty in nature is shown in “Ode on Melancholy” in the second and third lines of stanza two from the simile and personification of “sudden from the heaven like a weeping cloud, That fosters the droop-headed flowers all”. The “weeping” cloud symbolizes melancholy. The “droop-headed flowers” can both have a metaphorical or a literal meaning as the metaphorical meaning of “droop-headed” could be sadness whereas the literal meaning of “droop-headed” could just be because of the heavy rain. In “Ode to a Nightingale”, Keats’ states “I cannot see what flowers are at my feet, nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs”.

    This suggests that he is only imagining the scenery because it is too dark to see anything. “Fast-fading violets cover’d up in leaves” is a metaphor that implies that human lives are fleeting. The sixth line or stanza two in “Ode on Melancholy” all refers to the beauty of nature. “Then glut thy sorrow on a morning rose” is telling us to fully enjoy the beauties of nature and life thus accepting melancholy instead of avoiding it. To “glut” sorrow means to wholly welcome the emotion of grief and despair.

    The “morning rose” is the depiction of the beauty of nature, though a “morning” rose only lives for a short time and Keats’ is implying that the human experience of joy is fleeting. The beauty of nature in “Ode to a Nightingale” is represented by the nightingale and its everlasting song along with the joy it brings to the persona. Keats’ suggests the song will always remain the same no matter what as it is permanent and even if he dies the bird will continue to sing. When “Ode to a Nightingale” and “Ode on Melancholy” are being compared to one another, one will see a difference in parts of the poem although they are also similar.

    The two poems by Keats’ both contain the same idea that the human life is transient so just experience life to the fullest whenever one can. Keats’ poem looks at classical idealism in “Ode on Melancholy”. This is apparent in the first line of the first stanza when Keats’ tells his reader to “go not to Lethe, neither twist”. This suggests to not look for an easy way out by referring to ‘Lethe’ which in Greek mythology, was a river whose water caused those who drank it to forget the past. Classical idealism is also seen in “Ode to a Nightingale” when “Lethe” is mentioned also in the fourth line of stanza one.

    Keats’ is describing how the persona enjoys the feeling of numbness and desire to have drugs injected through their veins and to consume intoxicated poison. Classical idealism in “Ode on Melancholy” is obvious when Keats’ states “ruby grape of Proserpine” since Proserpine was the queen of the underworld and goddess of Spring. She and was kidnapped by Pluto and taken to Hades – his kingdom. Proserpine’s mother, Demeter goddess of fertility and grain, grieved for her loss. Demeter saw Proserpine every 6 months and is what they believe as the reason to the change of seasons during the year.

    This implies that we must bear the cold suffering of Winter before we can take pleasures of beauty and contentment in Spring. Keats’ poems are primarily concerned with classical idealism in “Ode to a Nightingale” when Greek mythology is mentioned in stanza two saying “the blushful Hippocrene”. Hipporcrene was referred to as the fountain of muses in Greek mythology. “Hippocrene” was used to present the role of imagination. The biblical allusion of “Ruth” all links back to the classical idealism idea.

    Ruth, in the bible, was a widow working in the fields and fell in love with Boaz. Homesick Ruth is alluded by Keats’ to show that the song would have been quite a while back if even Ruth had heard the song and to also present a religious aspect. Through the comparison of the two poems “Ode to a Nightingale” and “Ode on Melancholy”, one can see how the reflection of classical idealism is a key idea in the poems that Keats’ has composed. These two poems are in comparison to each other as they both refer to the river of “Lethe” and both contain forms of Greek mythology.

    And so it can be seen in the two poems “Ode to a Nightingale” and “Ode on Melancholy” by John Keats are primarily concerned with exploring the conflicted nature of the human existence by the deliverance of his ideas including the metaphysical world, beauty in nature and classical idealism. Even though “Ode to a Nightingale” looks at nature, transience and mortality and “Ode on Melancholy” looks at lament and suffering, Keats’ suggests to his audience that pain and joy are joined at hip and in order to fully encounter joy, we must go through pain and sadness also.

    This essay was written by a fellow student. You may use it as a guide or sample for writing your own paper, but remember to cite it correctly. Don’t submit it as your own as it will be considered plagiarism.

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    Ode to a Nightingale and Ode on Melancholy John Keats Essay. (2018, Oct 22). Retrieved from

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