Ode to a Nightingale: Stanza 6 - Summary

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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.


      Lines 51—60. Darkling I listen.....become a sod. These lines are from the sixth stanza of Keats’s Ode to a Nightingale. This poem captures the poet’s deep sense of disgust with life. It also expresses his keen desire to escape into the dream land of fancy. The poet’s intense dissatisfaction with the world where youth dies, beauty fades and love vanishes, leads him to look upon death, not terrible, but as a welcome escape from “the weariness, the fever and the fret” of life. The poet explains that this is not the first time that he has thought of death. He has always looked upon death with love. He has always regarded death as easeful. Indeed, often in his thoughts he called upon death, so that it may end the deep suffering which life inflicted upon him.

      While in such a state the poet eagerly desired that death would overtake him, for it was a luxury to die in the midst of such happiness—to pass away painlessly into the nightly air listening to the enchanting melody of the bird pouring forth its music in profuse strains. But as he thus yearns for this happy death, the thought that even after his death, the nightingale would continue its song, while he would be deaf to the noble song being in his grave, gives him shock. The poet’s love of beauty while raising in him a desire of death amidst beautiful surroundings, also pains him because he would be deprived of this beauty after death.

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