Anne Finch: Poems

Comparison of Anne Finch’s ‘To The Nightingale’ and Samuel Coleridge’s ‘To The Nightingale’ 11th Grade

Anne Finch’s ‘To The Nightingale’ and Samuel Coleridge’s identically titled poem both display a pastoral appreciation of nature. The two poems are both conversation poems. This was a particularly popular form in the Romantic Period, and used conversational language to discuss higher themes of nature and morality. The protagonists address the nightingale, and use it as a symbol to illustrate the human soul. Despite their similarity in theme, the two poems differ greatly in content. Finch’s narrator sees the bird as a free soul in comparison to her own human lack of inspiration, whereas Coleridge celebrates the human form.

Finch and Coleridge’s poems display similarities and differences in their speaker, especially in the manner that the bird is addressed. Both speakers display appreciation for nature and the joy it brings. The speaker in Finch’s poem gives the Nightingale identity through an important role in the changing of seasons, urging the Nightingale to: ‘[exert] Thy Voice, Sweet Harbinger of Spring!’. The use of the capitalized ‘Harbinger’ signals the nightingale’s status: it announces the beginning of another season. It is also particularly poignant that the season is spring, as the song indicates a new beginning, with...

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