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John Keats is considered one of the most important and influential romantic poets. Almost all of his writing was romantic, and helped define the genre. What sets romantic poetry, and Keats’ poetry, aside from others was the focus on beauty, the vivid descriptions and attention to details in his poems, and the imaginative narratives and style. A major theme in his poems, especially the odes, is desire to escape his human life through art. His poem Ode to a Nightingale is a perfect example of his creative style. The poem’s title itself reflects his love of creativity and beauty, as the Nightingale has a beautiful song that Keats and the speaker much adores, and wants to celebrate. While some people try to escape the pressures and pain of ordinary life using drugs or alcohol, Keats uses poetry instead, and imagines himself as the bird, careless and able to sing its song wherever it goes. As stated, Keats focus on beauty is very evident in this poem. The fifth stanza exemplifies this best, where he describes the forest that the nightingale is flying in. Even though it’s dark in the forest and he can’t see, he uses his other senses, especially smell, to describe his surroundings.
Two of his poems, Ode to a Nightingale and the Ode to a Grecian Urn, reflect his admiration of a dreamlike world, and the disappointment of it when compared to a natural world. In Nightingale, when the speaker utters the word ‘forlorn’ and is taken away from his dream world, he expresses a disappointment with it. The word forlorn, for the speaker, reminds him of how he has been abandoned in the real world, and causes the nightingale to abandon him too, leaving him in a state of confusion and disarray. Grecian Urn is similar to this, in that the speaker is in his own dreamlike world, but in this case he is examing an ancient Greek urn covered in drawings, with the speaker talking to the drawings and giving them advice. For the speaker, much like in Nightingale, this urn is their escape from reality, a ‘happy place’ for them.
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Ode on a Grecian Urn, Ode to a Nightingale, John Keats, Ode, Common nightingale, Romantic poetry, The Nightingale: A Conversation Poem, Grecian, The Nightingale, John Keatss 1819 odes, Ode on Indolence
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