Keat's ode to a nightingale

Essay by Mariam January 2003

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Critical Appreciation of first stanza of Ode to a Nightingale

The first stanza basically shows how Keats is overcome by listening to the nightingale sind and he wants to abandon himself to a half-sleeping, half-waking sensation.

The words used in this stanza have an underlying meaning. For example, when Keats says that his heart aches, it could be a reference to how he suffered psychollogically through his tuberculosis, it could also be a reference to the pain that Keats had to go through because of the death of his nearest relatives, i.e. his mother, father, grandmother etc, it might refer to how Keats heart ached for a close relationship with Fanny Brown. Then, Keats goes on to talk about numbness, this numbness can be taken in the sense that Keats was an apprentice to a surgeon and surgeons were supposed to be absolutely have no sympathy with the patient and they were also thought of as brutal and uncaring.

Later on, Keats says that this numbness is a sort of poison (hemlock) for his senses, the numbness really is poison for his sense as a poet because the cool scientific detachment required of a surgeon is really like poison for the sensibility and warmth of a poet. Helmlock is mentioned in this line as thought of hemlock I had drunk because hemlock was given to Socrates who rebelled against the authorities of his time, in the same way, Keats also wanted to rebel against the authority of his guardian, Abbey. Also, hemlock is contained in the root of downer part of the tree and according to Keats he feels like he's moving downwards just like hemlock is in the lower part of the tree. Keats also mentions opiate in the first stanza, opiate could be mentioned for two different reasons,