Study Guide

The Nightingale Man and the Natural World

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Man and the Natural World

Want to take a walk out under the moonlight? "The Nightingale" will suit you just fine. Coleridge's lines are thick with nature imagery, from mossy groves to twigs with birds singing to glow worms giving off their bright light. Oh, and we can't forget the moon and stars. But it is mankind's use of nature to suit his own needs that concerns the poet, who tells us to go out and experience the greenery before writing a poem about what it feels like. The elements of nature play a part in reminding the reader to experience the way things really are, and not just stay inside their head all day.

Questions About Man and the Natural World

  1. Why does the poem begin by describing what the night sky lacks? What adjectives does it use to describe these missing elements, and what effect do they have on the way you think of them? Is this normally the way they are described?
  2. How, according to the speaker, do people usually describe the nightingale's song? What does that say about the typical human attitude towards nature?
  3. What does the speaker say we should do, rather than go to the theater or go to dances? Do you agree with him? Why or why not?

Chew on This

Nice try, speaker, but calling the nightingale's song "merry" is making the same assumption as calling it "melancholy."

A poet doesn't have to sit in nature to write about it. At the same time, it's kind of hard to describe the smell of grass or the crunch of fallen leaves from your desk.

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