5th stanza ‘Ode to a Nightingale’
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.
Primary considerable option in ’ode to a nightingale’ is Keats’ perception of the conflicted nature of human life which will be analyzed further in chapter 2.
Focusing on 5th stanza, the poet has left the physical world and has entered a world where he sees not with his natural eyes, but with heavenly eyes. The poet try to internalize the amazing element of nature when he wrote the poem by described it by using another sense to see the nature which is in smell and touch.
For the first, we will introduced the 5th stanza by analyzed the literal meaning of the words in this stanza. Then, we will interpret this stanza according to heavenly eyes of the poet in next session.
According to literal meaning of this stanza, we can conclude that this is important part of ‘ode to a nightingale’ because of it introduces the setting of the poem when it made in the progress which is in the garden in spring season at mid-May.
Setting of place is in the garden which is identified by flowers on the grass, boughs, the grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild, white hawthorn, the pastoral eglantine, fading leaves, etc. mid-May which is identified by the sentence ‘and mid-may’s eldest child’. Spring season which is identified by musk-rose, fading leaves, murmurous haunt of flies, summer eves, etc. in the spring season, the musk-rose, which is a mid-May flower, has not yet bloomed. At the last sentence in5th stanza, the word ‘on summer eves’, by open dictionary, we know that it is the changing time from spring to summer, but in the main line it is at spring season.
There are some words in this stanza which is possibly have non literal meaning that can give important clue to which the poet want to sent the idea given in this stanza.
‘cannot see the flowers’ which possibly as symbol of the low ability of the poet to see surrounding by his weak eyes until he use his other sense in smell and touch. His weak eyes also possible to refer to humans changing level of age from adult to old. It is also possible as sign of death since eyes used to see the world.
‘embalmed darkness’ which is defined as fragrant, preserved body is possible to death since we symbolized death in darkness and also possible to describe the poets’ addictive to the beauty and natural conflict of the element of nature.
‘summer eves’ which define as season changing is possible to symbolized the changing of age, from adult which is identified by musk-rose to old which is identified by dewy wine which is cold, the time humans can not produce anything, the time which is naturally bring us to death.
Back to first line in the 5th stanza, based on literal meaning we indentified that because of the poet cannot see in the darkness, he must rely on his other senses. Then the questions raise, what senses does he rely on? Are his experience and his sensations intense? For himself only or for the reader also?
Even in this refuge, death is present; what words hint of death? Do these hints help to prepare for stanza VI? Was death anticipated in stanza 1 by the vague suggestions in the words ‘Lethe’, ‘hemlock’, ‘drowsy numbness’, ‘poisonous’, and ‘shadowy darkness’?
The answer of these questions might be find in the next session.