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John Keats’ Ode to a Nightingale

Ode to a nightingale

The opening lines of 'Ode to a Nightingale'. BL K.T.C.9.b.13
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Written on a spring day of exceptional warmth and beauty in 1819, the 'Ode to a nightingale' is a meditation on the eternal purity of the bird's song. Its unrelenting poignancy reminds Keats, still haunted by the painful death of his brother, of the inevitable sadness of man's mortality. The opening lines of one of the most famous and evocative poems in the English language are reproduced here from an edition published in 1888, with decorations by the American artist W.H. Low.

Listen to the following sound sample with the Windows Media Player

Listen  Nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos)
From British Bird Sounds on CD, compiled and edited by Ron Kettle and Richard Ranft of the British Library Sound Archive. This recording of the song of the nightingale, of extraordinarily rich virtuosity, was made by Douglas Bower in Hampshire, in June 1973.

All recordings copyright © British Library Board. The recordings on this site are for private listening only; copying, broadcasting or reproduction is prohibited.

John Keats (1795-1821) John Keats (1795-1821)
Keats' Hyperion Keats' Hyperion
'Ode to a nightingale'
Keats' letter to his sister Keats' letter to his sister
Keats' literary reputation Keats' literary reputation
Keats' first publication - 'To solitude' Keats' first publication - 'To solitude'
 
 
 
Discover more:
John Keats (1795-1821) John Keats (1795-1821)
Keats' Hyperion Keats' Hyperion
'Ode to a nightingale'
Keats' letter to his sister Keats' letter to his sister
Keats' literary reputation Keats' literary reputation
Keats' first publication - 'To solitude' Keats' first publication - 'To solitude'
   
 
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