Ode to a Nightingale: Stanza 8 - Summary

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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?


      Lines 71—72. Forlorn.....sole self. The poet had, for a while, forgotten the real world which is full of “weariness fever and frets.” The nightingale’s song had inspired him and aroused his imagination. With its help, he had for a while transported himself into the dark forest where the nightingale sings. But the word “forlorn”, used in last line of the preceding stanza serves as a sad reminder to him that he, too, is in reality forlorn. All of a sudden, he wakes up from his beautiful day-dream, and becomes aware of his worries and difficulties. The word of “forlorn” is thus like the loud sound of a bell which wakes us up from our sleep.

      Lines 73—74. Adieu, the fancy.....deceiving elf. The poet, therefore bids farewell to his dream and to the nightingale and its song. Gone is the world of sweet fancies into which the poet sought escape from “the weariness, the fever and the fret” of this world. His romantic fancy had, for a short while, transported him into this world of beauty. But now, when he comes back to himself and remembers the realities of life again, he feels that fancy cannot help us long. It can make us forget ourselves only for a short while. Like a fairy having supernatural powers, it can transform the world around us, but for a short while only. Thus he calls fancy a “deceiving elf.”

      Lines 74—77. Adieu, adieu! thy.....next valley glades. The poet here describes the gradual fading away of the sound of the nightingale’s singing. The nightingale flies farther and farther away. It is heard over the fields nearby. Then it flies away still farther over the quiet stream and its sound grows dimmer. The poet then hears its sound from the valley, and its singing by now grows altogether inaudible.

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