"Ode To A Nightingale"
First Publication Date: 1820.
1 My heart
aches, and a drowsy
My sense, as though of hemlock I had
3 Or emptied some dull
opiate to the drains
One minute past, and Lethe-wards had
5 'Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,
6 But being too happy in thine happiness,--
That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees
In some melodious plot
9 Of beechen
green, and shadows
10 Singest of
in full-throated ease.
11 O, for a draught of vintage! that hath been
12 Cool'd a long age in the deep-delved earth,
Tasting of Flora and the country green,
Dance, and ProvenÁal song, and sunburnt mirth!
15 O for a beaker full of the warm South,
Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,
17 With beaded bubbles
winking at the brim,
And purple-stained mouth;
19 That I might drink, and leave the world
20 And with thee fade
away into the forest dim:
21 Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget
22 What thou among the leaves hast never
23 The weariness, the fever, and the fret
24 Here, where men sit and hear each other
25 Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last gray hairs,
26 Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin,
27 Where but to think
is to be full of sorrow
And leaden-eyed despairs,
29 Where Beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes,
30 Or new Love pine at
them beyond to-morrow.
31 Away! away! for I will fly to thee,
32 Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards,
But on the viewless wings of Poesy,
34 Though the dull brain perplexes and
35 Already with thee! tender is the night,
36 And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne,
37 Cluster'd around by
all her starry Fays;
But here there is no light,
39 Save what from heaven is with the breezes
40 Through verdurous
glooms and winding mossy ways.
41 I cannot see what flowers are at my feet,
42 Nor what soft incense hangs upon the
But, in embalmed darkness, guess each sweet
44 Wherewith the seasonable month endows
45 The grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild;
White hawthorn, and the pastoral eglantine;
47 Fast fading violets
cover'd up in leaves;
And mid-May's eldest child,
49 The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine,
50 The murmurous haunt
of flies on summer eves.
Darkling I listen; and, for many a time
52 I have been half in love with easeful
53 Call'd him soft names in many a mused rhyme,
54 To take into the air my quiet breath;
55 Now more than ever
seems it rich to die,
56 To cease upon the midnight with no pain,
57 While thou art
pouring forth thy soul abroad
In such an ecstasy!
59 Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in
60 To thy
high requiem become a sod.
61 Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird!
62 No hungry generations tread thee down;
63 The voice I hear this passing night was heard
64 In ancient days by emperor and clown:
65 Perhaps the self-same song that found a path
66 Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick
She stood in tears amid the alien corn;
The same that oft-times hath
69 Charm'd magic casements, opening on the
70 Of perilous seas,
in faery lands forlorn.
71 Forlorn! the very word is like a bell
72 To toll me back from thee to my sole self!
73 Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so well
74 As she is fam'd to do, deceiving elf.
75 Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades
76 Past the near meadows, over the still
77 Up the hill-side;
and now 'tis buried deep
In the next valley-glades:
79 Was it a vision, or a waking dream?
80 Fled is that
music:--Do I wake or sleep?
a poisonous plant which produces death by paralysis.
a river of the lower world from which the shades drank, and thus obtained
forgetfulness of the past.
a wood nymph.
the goddess of flowers, here used for flowers themselves.
song. In the early Middle Ages the poets of southern France, the troubadours
of Provence, were particularly famous for their love lyrics.
a fountain on Mount Helicon in Boeotia, sacred to the Muses.
full of balms, or perfumes.
eglantine. Eglantine is properly the sweet-briar, though popularly applied to
various varieties of the wild rose. "Pastoral" presumably because often
referred to in pastoral poetry.
in the dark; cf Milton, Paradise Lost, III, 38-40: "As the
wakeful Bird/Sings darkling, and in shadiest Covert hid/Tunes her nocturnal
corn: alien because Ruth was not an Israelite but a Moabitess.