John Keats, Ode to a Nightingale

This beautiful poem plays with concepts of opposites throughout. In the beginning, Keats writes that the speaker “heart aches” yet he feels “drowsy numbness” and the bird sings of summer “in full-throated ease.” Aches and numbness and full-throated and ease are just a couple of examples of the opposites or the imagery of extremes that Keats incorporates into the poem. Furthermore, life and death seem to constantly be at a struggle. In the seventh stanza Keats even points out that the nightingale was “not born for death, immortal bird!” Perhaps this poem focuses so much on the extremes because the highs that Keats is trying to portray for his readers, that the highs of his speaker’s love for this nightingale, can only be achieved or understood despite or because their accompanying lows.

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