John Keats – Ode to a Nightingale

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.

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 Provençal 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:

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Forlorn! the very word is like a bell
        To toll 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?

Source: Poetry Foundation

Embedded Primal elements

  • Deep and unrushed, honest engagement with a single experience, in all its unfoldings. Never jumping. A patience.
  • Expansive interconnecting of internal experiences with aspects of the world, other experiences, interpenetrations of life into scaffolded meaning
    • Allowing imagination into the poem, to overwrite what’s there; the poem is about internal experience, not external world – yet interpenetrated with it.
    • Appropriation of the world for the internal experience, without the illusion of universality.
    • Spiritual infusion/personification of natural elements AND of experiences, as well as their intertwining.
    • Humanity’s fleshly mythological structures – as of lived experiences, not as exalted unreachables. Timeless.
  • “Performing” how the imagination is functioning; instructional
  • Unapologetic longing; harnessing it, embodying the full romance in it. Extending it, not cutting it off into hope or moldy suffering.
  • More specific aspects:
    • Capitalizing nouns of personality-infusion.
    • Liberal use of “; :”, making poem thicker, gooier, more melodious, more full into itself.
    • No caps after “! ?”, making them like commas in function.
    • Liberal use of “! – : ;” and non-tight lists of clauses, reflecting undulating emotional life unapologetically, without forcing it into tightness.

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