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Ode to a Nightingale Summary & Analysis
by John Keats

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"Ode to a Nightingale" was written by the Romantic poet John Keats in the spring of 1819. At 80 lines, it is the longest of Keats's odes (which include poems like "Ode on a Grecian Urn" and "Ode on Melancholy"). The poem focuses on a speaker standing in a dark forest, listening to the beguiling and beautiful song of the nightingale bird. This provokes a deep and meandering meditation by the speaker on time, death, beauty, nature, and human suffering (something the speaker would very much like to escape!). At times, the speaker finds comfort in the nightingale's song and at one point even believes that poetry will bring the speaker metaphorically closer to the nightingale. By the end of the poem, however, the speaker seems to be an isolated figure—the nightingale flies away, and the speaker unsure of whether the whole experience has been "a vision" or a "waking dream."

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