Ode to a Nightingale
by John Keats
Life's a Drag
Yes, this poem highlights the blissful music of the nightingale, but it also has a bleak side. The speaker is desperate to escape the world because it is full of people getting old and dying. Life is just a long parade of miseries, and he thinks it would be better to just go out quietly in the middle of the night. The nightingale's world seems so enchanting that it makes our own world seem like a real drag.
- Line 25-26: In these depressing images, the speaker describes the earth as a place where old people suffering from paralysis ("palsy") have seizures that shake their last hairs. And young people grow thin as ghosts and then die. Thanks, Keats. Thanks for ruining our day.
- Lines 29-30: Beauty and Love are both personified. Beauty has nice eyes, but she gets old and the eyes lose their luster. Love, the chubby kid with the bow and arrow, is totally over Beauty's eyes at that point.
- Lines 52-53: Death is personified as a male – probably the guy with the hood and sickle. But the speaker isn't afraid of Death – he actually tries to woo him.
- Line 62: The generations of people are metaphorically "hungry" because they "consume" their parents by taking their place. Kids – you gotta watch out for them.
- Lines 71 and 73: These two lines have a parallel structure beginning with a two-syllable exclamation: "Forlorn!" and "Adieu!". The speaker has been abandoned by the nightingale.