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“Ode to a Nightingale” by John Keats is a poem in which the author attempts to reconcile himself to human mortality. Written after the deaths of his parents, his brother’s struggle with tuberculosis, and his own diagnosis of tuberculosis, it is a poem in which the writer uses “negative capability” to remove himself from contemplation of his own illness and mortality by imaginative identification with the bird.
The beauty of the nightingale’s song contrasts with the poets own “heart ache” and “drowsy numbness”. As the poet listens to the song of the bird, he suggests that the bird’s song conveys the joy of summer. In the second stanza, the poet wishes that by listening to the song he could enter into the consciousness and untroubled joy of the bird.
The subsequent stanzas of the poem start to merge the consciousness of the poet with the ecstatic emotions and visions evoked by the beauty of the nightingale’s song, contrasted with the bleakness of the poet’s world.
The song of the bird is identified with the “wings of Poesy”. In other words, negative capability or imaginative identification which enables us to find joy in natural beauty or bird song also accounts for our similar ability to enjoy artistic creations, taking us away from our everyday concerns, worries, and discomforts and transporting us to an imagined universe.


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