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Ode to a Nightingale

Ode to a Nightingale


John Keats

Ode to a Nightingale Analysis

Symbols, Imagery, Wordplay

Welcome to the land of symbols, imagery, and wordplay. Before you travel any further, please know that there may be some thorny academic terminology ahead. Never fear, Shmoop is here. Check out our...

Form and Meter

Keats and his Romantic peers almost single-handedly revived the ode form for modern readers with poems like, "Ode on a Grecian Urn," and "To Autumn," among others. The ode is an Ancient Greek song...


The speaker is such a good actor that he can even fool himself. First he demonstrates his acting chops by pretending to be drunk. He's like an alcoholic who would do anything for a drink, except he...


The poem is set both inside and outside a forest. We'll explain. At the beginning of the poem, the speaker peers into the woods from outside and tells the nightingale, "Whoa, dude, I'm jealous that...

Sound Check

This poem sounds a lot like a car shifting gears. The same high-quality motor is present the whole time, but it jumps between different levels of intensity. The poem begins in a low gear, with the...

What's Up With the Title?

The first thing the title tells us is the form of the poem, the ode. But it's not just any ode, it's an ode that is addressed "to" its subject. Throughout the poem, the speaker talks to the nightin...

Calling Card

You know a literary reference is obscure when you try to look it up online, and the only mention you can find takes you right back to the poem! Such was the case for Shmoop with words like "Hippocr...


Keats can get very flowery with his language, and his frequent references to Greek mythology can drive a reader who is unfamiliar with "dryads" and "Hippocrene" straight into the arms of his or her...

Brain Snacks

Sex Rating

We think the scene with the nightingale singing in the forest of night would have made the perfect backdrop for a love story. Instead, what we get is a guy whispering sweet nothings to Death. Nobod...

Shout Outs

Ovid's Metamorphoses (Title)Hemlock – the poison that killed Socrates (line 2)Lethe (line 4)Dryads (line 6)Hippocrene (line 16)Bacchus (line 32)Bible, The Book of Ruth (line 66)

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