Ode to a Nightingale: Stanza 7 - Summary

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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.

Summary

      Lines 65—71. Perhaps the self-same song.....in fairy lands forlorn: These lines occur in the seventh stanza of Keats’s Ode to Nightingale. The poet describes the nightingale as immortal, for he feels that it can never die. He thinks that the nightingale whose sweet song is bringing him such rapture is the same that sang thousands of years back, and was heard by generation after generation of men and women of all classes.

      These lines concretize this idea by presenting two examples. First, the poet refers to the famous Biblical story of Ruth who, though a Moabite, left her native land for Judah, where she accompanied her mother-in-law after her husband’s death. There she must have felt very sad and lonely as she worked as a gleaner ill the fields of her husband’s relative, because this was a foreign land for her. But Keats fancies that she, too, perhaps, heard this yery nightingale singing this very song, perhaps it brought consolation to her heart also.

      The poet then throws out rich romantic suggestions in the fast lines of the stanza. He conjures up a fairy castle situated in some desolate, forlorn place. This is perhaps the castle of a cruel giant or wizard who has made captive some beautiful maiden. The maiden sits in one of the windows of castle, sees the stormy waves of the ocean at the brink of which the castle is situated, and her heart sinks within her. She is sad because there seems to be no escape for her. But perhaps her heart is gladdened, even in her deep distress, by the sweet singing of the some nightingale which is singing today. Thus the nightingale’s song has been heard, not only by the poet today or by Ruth thousands of years back. The (poet imagines that perhaps it was heard by many captive maidens as they sat in the windows of enchanted castles. The nightingale’s song is thus immortal and has been heard throughout the ages.

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