In his essay “ A defence of poesy, ” Percy Bysshe Shelley summarizes the function of the poet: “ A poet is a nightingale, who sits in darkness and sings to hearten its ain purdah with sweet sound ( Shelley, “ A Defense of Poetry ” ) . Mention to birds is rather common in the plants of Romantic writers, whereby the image stands for highs unattainable to the human status, for transcendency. Inspired by the kingdom of flawlessness that birds inhabit, the Romantic poet attempts to get away his earthly being, to “ surge ” to unseen highs merely to recognize the impossibleness of his mission. The journey of the poet takes the signifier of a pilgrim’s journey, which leads the traveller back to his original point in earthly being. This subject is developed in similar, and yet different ways, by two Romantic poets – Percy Bysshe Shelley in his “ To a Sky-lark ” and John Keats in “ Ode to a Nightingale. ”
Both Shelley and Keats use a bird as their Muse and as a cosmopolitan symbol for the human experience. The general subject of the two verse forms is rather similar – consciousness leaves worlds restless in their hunt for the ideal that ne’er comes. The lyric talker is cognizant of a province of unachievable flawlessness and therefore could ne’er to the full appreciate the joys of life. The bird, in this sense, serves as the incarnation of the unapproachable. The attitude towards it, nevertheless, is markedly different in the two plants. Shelley is awed by the sky-lark and shows pure esteem, while Keats is covetous of the flying animal and its province of flawlessness. Therefore, the emotions of the two lyric talkers besides differ – the tone of Shelley ‘s verse form is elevated, inspired, pressing, while Keats ‘ feelings wander on a sinuate incline from dreaminess, to fear, and terminal in desperation. Aspirations towards the image of the bird differ excessively – Keats and Shelley have diverging purposes in their supplications. For Keats, the Luscinia megarhynchos is a agency for accomplishment of pure transcendency, for Shelley the sky-lark is an expressive “ device ” that will present the writer ‘s messages to the universe. Both of these verse forms, nevertheless, portion the similarity of looking at the enigmas and stateliness of nature to seek to understand the life of world. A In this sense, both texts are glorious with graphic imagination, created through the usage of legion stylistic devices.
The Luscinia megarhynchos and the sky-lark are addressed as immortal symbols of poetic inspiration in the two verse forms. They are both unseeable and, hence, unachievable. The lone way that leads to the birds is their tuneful vocal, which manages to animate and touch Shelley, but leaves Keats in melancholy. This phenomenon is likely due to the different outlooks and visions of the several birds that the poets hold – “ the Alauda arvensis is conceived in a societal and rational vena, and the Luscinia megarhynchos in an aesthetic and sensuous vena ( Jalal Khan, pp. 13 ) . ” It is so more hard to make the purely abstract, aesthetic ideal of beauty and infinity that Keats describes through the image of his Luscinia megarhynchos. Shelley, on the other manus, supplicates the sky-lark to give him something touchable – a agency to distribute his radical chants of autonomy, equality in contrast to tyranny and subjugation. Thus, hope for accomplishment still persists for one of the poets – “ The universe should listen so, as I am listening now ( Shelley, To a Sky-lark, line 105 ) . ” – and is wholly lost for the other.
The tempers in the beginning of the two verse forms are in blunt contrast – Shelley addresses the sky-lark with “ Hail ” and the ascription “ blithe spirit, ” demoing awe and esteem. On the other manus, we see Keats – Gothic and somber in his self-pity. The poet starts by turn toing the strivings of life – his dull senses, as if numbed by an opiate, are described in the drawn-out simile: “ One minute yesteryear, and Lethe-wards had sunk ( Keats, Ode to a Nightingale, line 4 ) . ” The first stanza is like the oncoming of an waking up, the start of a journey that, subsequently on, will recognize its elevated flood tide merely to stop back where it began. The motion is from a feeling of lessened life ( “ numb ” , “ sunk ” , “ dull ” , “ drowsy ” ) to that of full life ( “ light-winged ” , “ happy ” , “ green ” , “ full-throated easiness ” ) . In the 2nd stanza, Keats, working a well-known Romantic image – vino, attempts to accomplish his intended flight to transcendency. In the following transitions, the writer makes usage of rich nonliteral linguistic communication to exemplify the highs to which his spirit ( poetic inspiration ) flies.
It is so singular how Romantic poets use images from nature to exemplify their point. Mentions to natural objects and phenomena are finely carved to function a higher purpose – in them, the poet hunts for replies to unanswerable inquiries. Both “ Ode to a Nightingale ” and “ To a Sky-lark ” celebrate an facet of nature, a higher order of being that the poet compares to adult male ‘s limited life on the Earth ( Percy Byssche Shelley Group on e-notes.com ) . In Shelley, allusion to nature happens through the usage of parallel constructions and extended similes, while metaphors of the natural universe and personification of human emotions are more common in Keats.
Another common Romantic thought underlies the verse form of both Keats and Shelley – consciousness is the enemy of sheer joy, the module of ground prevents us from accomplishing transcendency. This is what Shelley refers to when he describes the vocal of the sky-lark as an “ unpremeditated art. ” The same idea is expressed by Keats in the sentence: “ Though the dull encephalon perplexes and idiots ( Keats, Ode to a Nightingale, line 34 ) . ” In blunt contrast to their predecessors – the poets of the Enlightenment – Romantics renounce ground as the greatest module of human head. To the contrary, they condemn it as an obstruction to flawlessness. It is so ground that reminds Keats of the fact he can ne’er be excessively happy and brings him back to Earth from his province of semi-elevated joy – he becomes a “ turf ” once more. Harmonizing to Leavis, the Ode is “ an highly elusive and varied interplay of gestures, directed now positively, now negatively ( Leavis, pp.74 ) . ” In Shelley there is no painful realisation of world ‘s incapacity to make an ideal province of head, but the poet does show his sorrow of non being able to surge in the skies and personally acquire his message across. Therefore, Shelley is prevented from speech production and Keats – from feeling.
Keats ‘s “ Ode to a Nightingale ” impresses with rich item, luxuriant signifier of authorship, and a overplus of emotions. While more simple in manner and composing, Shelley ‘s “ To a Sky-lark ” poses the same ageless inquiry – why is human flawlessness unattainable? Both poets give the same reply: consciousness – worlds ‘ greatest gift – is besides its greatest expletive. Both Keats and Shelley are cognizant they will ne’er achieve coveted transcendency, although they see it in a different mode. Keats views accomplishing the province as a agency to experience pure aesthetic pleasance ; for Shelley it is a link of idealism and his ain extremist idea. An extra, and ague, difference between the two verse forms can be noted towards their terminal – Shelley turns to the hereafter, to a potency for an enhanced hearing of a new vocal ; Keats seems hopelessly stuck in the bare present. Ultimately, in the reader ‘s head, the writers remain who they truly were – a “ sad mastermind who tried to populate a happy life ( Global Poet, Jan 2001 ) , ” and a “ adult male distracted from the consciousness of his ain mortality by the changeless spectacle of the decease of others ( Paul deMan, pp. 190 ) . ”