(I in no way own any of the content of the video above nor video itself I found it on YouTube)
As many of you are aware of or have lived through, the terror of this past weekend’s Snow Storm, it leaves one with very little to do while trapped inside a snow globe-like room and deep and utter wretched boredom sets in. I have read almost every novel there is to read in the house and I grew tired of crocheting. My canvas has been neglected as my paint filled brushes are rapidly crumbling and falling apart after many years of use, so what then was there left to do? Re-watch the BBC series “Lark Rise to Candleford”.
For those of you who do not know anything about this series, it is a semi-autobiographical trilogy based on the English novelist and poet’s life namely Flora Thompson. Flora was born December 5, 1876, and she was perhaps best known for her novel about the English countryside called “Lark Rise To Candleford”. The Novel or in this case the series that filled my snow filled afternoons was set in 19 century Oxfordshire, in which a young girl moves to town to begin an apprenticeship as postmistress to her mother’s cousin Ms. Lane. In one particularly riveting episode, the main character whose name is Laura is the center of affection for two different men. One is a childhood friend, and the other is Laura’s boyfriend the handsome gamekeeper to the squire. To sum up the love triangle in this episode and to bring about my point to this story is that, Laura’s childhood friend, Alf, is desperate to win her affection. Alf finds out that there will be a poetry reading and decides to read Laura’s favorite poem “Ode to a Nightingale” by John Keats. Poor Alf’s plan is foiled, however, but I shall leave that up to you dear Reader to discover why.
Now as some of you may have read in my previous blogs John Keats is a favorite poet of mine, but I never heard of this particular verse. So doing what any snowbound and bored young woman would do, I began to research the poem. After finally finding the poem and reading it for myself I could clearly see what our lovelorn Laura fell so deeply in love with the poem.
The lovely and perhaps most beautiful aspect of poetry is the interpretation of it. For you see there isn’t necessarily a wrong or a right way to interpret a poem. The author molds and crafts words in such a fashion to conjure images and to expose their innermost joy, pain, and sometimes, even sorrow. However what separates this from a book is that it does not always clearly convey how they are feeling and to what end or perhaps even the subject of their emotions. This is where the flights of fancy may occur and certainly many disputes over an interpretation of the verse.
In “Ode to a Nightingale” Keats expresses the joy and sorrows and almost confusion he feels while listening to the bird’s melodious song. He questions the mortality of the Nightingale itself. Feeling that since almost every generation has at one time or another has listened to this same song that the bird must be immortal. However, it is not merely the idea of what our poet is trying to convey but the imagery in which he uses to express it. I can almost imagine our heroine, Laura, listening to this poem in a meadow in her little town picturing scene by scene what she hears in the poem. As I close my eyes and listen to the poem I can almost feel the warm summer air on my face as I ‘listen’ to this little bird sing its song; a song that I feel like is sung and only meant for me. How my heart swells and fills as I think of it now. I think it is now one of my favorite works of poetry. I will leave it for you to read for yourself. I hope you can feel what I feel, and to see what I see, and hopefully it touches your soul like it does mine. I also hope you enjoy the YouTube link above that I found of the very talented Benedict Cumberbatch reading this poem. His reading joyously brings to life the very spirit and essence of the poem.
Until Next time I remain as always respectfully,
Cheyenne E. Mitchell
Ode to a Nightingale
~ By: John Keats
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?