Ode to a Nightingale
by John Keats
Ode to a Nightingale Summary
The poem begins as the speaker starts to feel disoriented from listening to the song of the nightingale, as if he had just drunken something really, really strong. He feels bittersweet happiness at the thought of the nightingale's carefree life.
The speaker wishes he had a special wine distilled directly from the earth. He wants to drink such a wine and fade into the forest with the nightingale. He wants to escape the worries and concerns of life, age, and time.
He uses poetry to join the nightingale's nighttime world, deep in the dark forest where hardly any moonlight can reach. He can't see any of the flowers or plants around him, but he can smell them. He thinks it wouldn't be so bad to die at night in the forest, with no one around except the nightingale singing.
But the nightingale can't die. The nightingale must be immortal, because so many different kinds of generations of people have heard its song throughout history, everyone from clowns and emperors to Biblical characters to people in fantasy stories.
The speaker's vision is interrupted when the nightingale flies away and leaves him alone. He feels abandoned and disappointed that his imagination is not strong enough to create its own reality. He is left confused and bewildered, not knowing the difference between reality and dreams.