Monthly Archives: July 2017

Favorite Poems: “Ode to a Nightingale” by John Keats

(Listen to Benedict Cumberbatch reciting it.)

 

1.

My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
**My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains
**One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk:
‘Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,
**But being too happy in thine happiness,—
****That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees,
**********In some melodious plot
**Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,
****Singest of summer in full-throated ease.

2.

O, for a draught of vintage! that hath been
**Cool’d a long age in the deep-delved earth,
Tasting of Flora and the country green,
**Dance, and Provencal song, and sunburnt mirth!
O for a beaker full of the warm South,
**Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,
****With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,
**********And purple-stained mouth;
**That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,
****And with thee fade away into the forest dim:

3.

Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget
**What thou among the leaves hast never known,
The weariness, the fever, and the fret
**Here, where men sit and hear each other groan;
Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last gray hairs,
**Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies;
****Where but to think is to be full of sorrow
**********And leaden-eyed despairs,
**Where Beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes,
****Or new Love pine at them beyond to-morrow.

4.

Away! away! for I will fly to thee,
**Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards,
But on the viewless wings of Poesy,
**Though the dull brain perplexes and retards:
Already with thee! tender is the night,
**And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne,
****Cluster’d around by all her starry Fays;
**********But here there is no light,
**Save what from heaven is with the breezes blown
****Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy ways.

5.

I cannot see what flowers are at my feet,
**Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs,
But, in embalmed darkness, guess each sweet
**Wherewith the seasonable month endows
The grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild;
**White hawthorn, and the pastoral eglantine;
****Fast fading violets cover’d up in leaves;
**********And mid-May’s eldest child,
**The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine,
****The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves.

6.

Darkling I listen; and, for many a time
**I have been half in love with easeful Death,
Call’d him soft names in many a mused rhyme,
**To take into the air my quiet breath;
Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
**To cease upon the midnight with no pain,
****While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad
**********In such an ecstasy!
**Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain—
****To thy high requiem become a sod.

7.

Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird!
**No hungry generations tread thee down;
The voice I hear this passing night was heard
**In ancient days by emperor and clown:
Perhaps the self-same song that found a path
**Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,
****She stood in tears amid the alien corn;
**********The same that oft-times hath
**Charm’d magic casements, opening on the foam
****Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.

8.

Forlorn! the very word is like a bell
**To toil me back from thee to my sole self!
Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so well
**As she is fam’d to do, deceiving elf.
Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades
**Past the near meadows, over the still stream,
****Up the hill-side; and now ‘tis buried deep
**********In the next valley-glades:
**Was it a vision, or a waking dream?
****Fled is that music:—Do I wake or sleep?

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