Ode to a Nightingale

John Keats

 
1.
My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains  
  My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,  
Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains  
  One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk:  
'Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,
  But being too happy in thine happiness,—  
    That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees,  
          In some melodious plot  
  Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,  
    Singest of summer in full-throated ease.
  
2.
O, for a draught of vintage! that hath been  
  Cool'd a long age in the deep-delved earth,  
Tasting of Flora and the country green,  
  Dance, and Provencal song, and sunburnt mirth!  
O for a beaker full of the warm South,
  Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,  
    With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,  
          And purple-stained mouth;  
  That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,  
    And with thee fade away into the forest dim:
  
3.
Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget  
  What thou among the leaves hast never known,  
The weariness, the fever, and the fret  
  Here, where men sit and hear each other groan;  
Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last gray hairs,
  Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies;  
    Where but to think is to be full of sorrow  
          And leaden-eyed despairs,  
  Where Beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes,  
    Or new Love pine at them beyond to-morrow.
  
4.
Away! away! for I will fly to thee,  
  Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards,  
But on the viewless wings of Poesy,  
  Though the dull brain perplexes and retards:  
Already with thee! tender is the night,
  And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne,  
    Cluster'd around by all her starry Fays;  
          But here there is no light,  
  Save what from heaven is with the breezes blown  
    Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy ways.
  
5.
I cannot see what flowers are at my feet,  
  Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs,  
But, in embalmed darkness, guess each sweet  
  Wherewith the seasonable month endows  
The grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild;
  White hawthorn, and the pastoral eglantine;  
    Fast fading violets cover'd up in leaves;  
          And mid-May's eldest child,  
  The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine,  
    The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves.
  
6.
Darkling I listen; and, for many a time  
  I have been half in love with easeful Death,  
Call'd him soft names in many a mused rhyme,  
  To take into the air my quiet breath;  
Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
  To cease upon the midnight with no pain,  
    While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad  
          In such an ecstasy!  
  Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain—  
    To thy high requiem become a sod.
  
7.
Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird!  
  No hungry generations tread thee down;  
The voice I hear this passing night was heard  
  In ancient days by emperor and clown:  
Perhaps the self-same song that found a path
  Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,  
    She stood in tears amid the alien corn;  
          The same that oft-times hath  
  Charm'd magic casements, opening on the foam  
    Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.   
  
8.
Forlorn! the very word is like a bell  
  To toll me back from thee to my sole self!  
Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so well  
  As she is fam'd to do, deceiving elf.  
Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades
  Past the near meadows, over the still stream,  
    Up the hill-side; and now 'tis buried deep  
          In the next valley-glades:  
  Was it a vision, or a waking dream?  
    Fled is that music:—Do I wake or sleep?
 

Poems by This Author

Endymion, Book I, [A thing of beauty is a joy for ever] by John Keats
A thing of beauty is a joy for ever
Lamia [Left to herself] by John Keats
Left to herself, the serpent now began
After dark vapors have oppress'd our plains by John Keats
After dark vapors have oppress'd our plains
Bright Star by John Keats
Bright star! would I were steadfast as thou art
I cry your mercy—pity—love!—ay, love by John Keats
I cry your mercy—pity—love!—ay, love
In drear nighted December by John Keats
In drear nighted December
La Belle Dame Sans Merci by John Keats
Ah, what can ail thee, wretched wight,
Ode on a Grecian Urn by John Keats
Thou still unravish'd bride of quietness,
On First Looking into Chapman's Homer by John Keats
Much have I traveled in the realms of gold
On Seeing the Elgin Marbles by John Keats
My spirit is too weak—mortality
On the Grasshopper and the Cricket by John Keats
The poetry of earth is never dead:
The day is gone, and all its sweets are gone by John Keats
The day is gone, and all its sweets are gone
The Eve of St. Agnes, XXIII, [Out went the taper as she hurried in] by John Keats
Out went the taper as she hurried in
The Human Seasons by John Keats
He has his lusty Spring, when fancy clear
This Living Hand by John Keats
This living hand, now warm and capable
To a Friend who sent me some Roses by John Keats
As late I rambled in the happy fields
To Autumn by John Keats
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
To Fanny by John Keats
Physician Nature! let my spirit blood
To Haydon with a Sonnet Written on Seeing the Elgin Marbles by John Keats
Haydon! Forgive me, that I cannot speak
When I Have Fears that I May Cease to Be by John Keats
When I have fears that I may cease to be


Further Reading

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