Written in May 1819, many believe Keats? Ode to a Nightingale to have been written at the home of Charles Brown, when Keats sat and listened to the bird for in the garden for some hours. Brown recounts how, ?when he [i.e. Keats] came into the house, I perceived he had some scraps of paper in his hand.? These pieces of paper were to contain Keats? poetic feeling on the song of the nightingale, ?a poem which has been the delight of everyone.? The nightingale is particularly apt for the themes Keats wished to explore in his poem. In Classical tradition, the nightingale is associated with love. The influential myth of Philomela, turned into a nightingale after being raped and tortured, stresses melancholy and suffering in association with love. Keats often used Greek and Roman mythology as inspiration for his poetry and he was preoccupied with the symbolic nature of many fables. The nightingale has also been associated with poetry; Keats no doubt knew Coleridge?s two poems To the Nightingale and The Nightingale: A Conversation Poem and according to his letters, only days before had Keats discussed the nature of nightingales and poetical sensation with the older poet. In this contemplation on poetic experience, Keats attempts to achieve awareness of beauty and permanence through the symbol of the nightingale. The ode is an apostrophe to the bird, the ?light-wing???d Dryad of the trees? and the poem is basically structured around the contrast between the poet, who is earthbound, and the nightingale, which is free. Keats was also preoccupied with permanence and mutability and through Ode to a Nightingale Keats used the visionary imagination to identify something that is essential and enduring, in this case, the ?full-throated ease? of the nightingale. The nightingale also represents one of many paradoxes found within the ode. Despite the fact that the poet interacts with the nightingale on a personal level and identifies with it, he als…
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