Ode to a Nightingale
by John Keats
Ode to a Nightingale Happiness Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (line)
'Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,
But being too happy in thine happiness,
That thou, light-wingèd Dryad of the trees,
In some melodious plot
Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,
Singest of summer in full-throated ease. (lines 5-10)
So, let's get this straight: the speaker has a heartache that he wants to drink away because he is…too happy for the nightingale? Count us skeptical. In Keats's poems, happiness is always a complicated subject. See also: "Ode on a Grecian Urn."
O for a draught of vintage! that hath been
Cool'd a long age in the deep-delvèd earth,
Tasting of Flora and the country-green,
Dance, and Provençal song, and sunburnt mirth! (lines 11-15)
The speaker associates the nightingale with the Mediterranean lifestyle: music, wine drinking, and dancing. He wants to distill the essence of these joyful activities into a liquor. Provence is a region in France known for its wine, sun, blue skies, and early Renaissance poetry.
Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last grey hairs,
Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies;
Where but to think is to be full of sorrow
And leaden-eyed despairs; (lines 25-28)
Part of the reason he thinks that the nightingale is so happy is that it does not have to suffer through the trials of human existence. All thought is bound to be despairing, so the fact that the nightingale does not have complex thoughts removes its obstacles to happiness. All human life is reduced to the image a balding, dying man suffering paralyzing seizures.