[Portable Poetry ...poems for your pocket]

HOME

POEMS

CREATE

STUFF

ABOUT

[The book printer - Amman]

John Keats : Ode to a Nightingale

				I
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-wards1 had sunk:
'Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,
	But being too happy in thine happiness,—
		That thou, light-winged Dryad2 of the trees,
			In some melodious plot
	Of beeches green, and shadows numberless,
		Singest of summer in full-throated ease. 

				II
O, for a draught of vintage! that hath been
	Cool'd a long age in the deep-delved earth,
Tasting of Flora3 and the country green,
	Dance, and Provençal4 song, and sunburnt mirth!
O for a beaker full of the warm South,
	Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene5,
		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:

				III
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. 	

				IV
Away! away! for I will fly to thee,
	Not charioted by Bacchus6 and his pards7,
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 Fays8;
			But here there is no light,
	Save what from heaven is with the breezes blown
		Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy 					ways. 

				V
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. 

				VI
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. 

				VII
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 Ruth9, 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. 

				VIII
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?	

John Keats (1795-1821)	P. 1820

 
FOOTNOTES
1 River in Hades producing forgetfulness; 2 a nymph of the trees; 3 Italian goddess of flowers; 4 pertaining to Provence, a region in the South of France; 5 sacred fountain of the Muses on Mount Helicon; 6 Roman god associated especially with wine and intoxication; 7 leopards which pulled the chariot of Bacchus; 8 fairies; 9 character from the old testament who was exiled in Judah
 

If you came here from the main Poems page, the BACK button on your web browser will bring you back there


 

Note 1: When we convert poems to HTML (WEB) format for viewing here, some modifications may occur to the formatting (e.g. indenting) - all poems are correctly formatted for print.

Note 2: if you came to this page following a search engine query, you can find the Portable Poetry home page at www.portablepoetry.com.

Note 3: Feel free to copy these poems and footnotes for your personal and private use. For other uses please get in touch with us first. This poem is believed to be in the public domain. All footnotes are copyright Portable Poetry.