Keats' Poems and Letters

John Keats' Use of Imagery in Ode to a Nightingale

John Keats is known for his vibrant use of imagery in his poetry. At least twenty paintings have been rendered as a result of his expressive imagery. In Ode to a Nightingale, he uses synesthetic imagery in the beginning by combining senses normally experienced separately to unify unrelated objects or feelings, but as he nears the end he stops making the connections. This helps the reader to make a distinction between the dream and reality, which is a constant theme in Keats' works.

The poem starts off by explaining how the narrator is heart-broken and is thinking about options to kill the sensation. He is considering hemlock, a poisonous drink made from the herb, and drinking from the Lethe River, a river in Hades that souls soon-to-be reincarnated drank from to forget their past lives. By choosing the latter of the two, the narrator would have to kill himselfneither of which seems enticing. Then the narrator hears the music of a nightingale and like a drug itself, dulls his senses into his own special world with the bird. He then uses synesthesia, "In some melodious plot / Of beechen green," (8-9) to combine sound and sight. Normally a beechen green would not be described as "melodious," but Keats does...

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