Keats' Poems and Letters

Comparison of "Ode to a Nightingale", "To Autumn" and "Bright Star would I were steadfast as thou art"

Keats’s preoccupation with the inescapable precession of time and mutability is evident in all three poems: “Ode to a Nightingale,”, the ode “To Autumn” and the sonnet, “Bright Star, Would I were as Steadfast as Thou Art.” In his “Ode to a Nightingale,” the bird’s singing becomes a symbol for Keats, of a place that is impervious to human despair and constant in its same eternal song; he wishes to escape to it before realizing that it would cast him into a state of non-existence, whereby he retracts. Similarly, in his sonnet, “Bright Star, Would I were as Steadfast as Thou Art,” Keats realizes that his worship of an ideal world would negate the happiness he is experiencing which leads him to reject his former yearnings. “To Autumn,” however, is an unqualified celebration of Nature and of change, which suggest Keats’s ultimate maturation of thought, whereby he ceases to desire the impossible, instead replacing his thought with the acknowledgement and acceptance that nature will continue to proceed, despite the fact that he won’t be there to witness the flux of time.

“Ode to a Nightingale” begins with a soporific heaviness, an intense description of “drowsy numbness” and the “[pain]” that encroaches into this state despite its...

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