Study Guide

The Nightingale Calling Card

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Calling Card

Transcending Tradition

A poet who is concerned with changing the state of poetry: that's our Coleridge.

Just check out some of his most famous works. In "Kubla Khan," a poem about a dream takes interesting twists and turns, changing its rhythm willy-nilly.

And, though he used traditional blank verse in "This Lime Tree Bower My Prison" and "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," he still wasn't afraid to both play with both form and subject matter.

And that's where we wind up in "The Nightingale." In this famous poem, Coleridge presents us with something that looks traditional, but is actually anything but.

In the end, he's not just talking about a bird. The entire poem implores us to take a deeper look before assigning meaning to anything. It also challenges us to question meaning that others (even famous poets) assign to things, especially things in nature.

So whether it's playing with traditional form or re-thinking the subject matter, Coleridge has the same advice for poets: don't be afraid to buck tradition a little bit.

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