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Paradoxical Union

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Another paradox found in Keat's poems is the idea of immortality and mortality in "The Ode to a Nightingale". He shows his intention of presenting the truth of life. Human life is mortal and transient while beauty of art, which is symbolized by the song of the nightingale, are immortal. Keats was fascinated the differences between life and art: Human beings die but the art that they made still lives on. Keats said that human life has "The weariness, the fever, and the fret", which mean there is suffering and disease. In contrast, the realm of a nightingale has no experience of suffering. It is eternal harmony. Keats says that he wanted to live in that place with a nightingale

"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."

Because of the desire to go with the nightingale's song, it makes him fails to completely forget himself. He uses his imagination to fell the beauty of nature in the fantasy world.

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.

Finally, he suddenly remembers what death means and the thought of the death frightens him back to earth and his own humanity. He realizes that there is just the nightingale that was not born for death. All human beings have to die. However, he sees the connection between the immortality and mortality. The beautiful song of a nightingale which is immortal can entertains every generation of people forever.

Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird!

No hungry generations tread thee down;

The voice I hear this passing night was heard




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