John Keats’s Ode to a Nightingale was published in 1819 and follows the thoughts of a protagonist reflecting on the world from the perspective of a nightingale.

There is instantly a melancholy feeling to Keats’s ode as the protagonist tells us his ‘heart aches’ and talks of his ‘drowsy numbness pains’ that sound a lot like symptoms of depression. Straight away, the reader is wondering why. We are filled with questions surrounding the emotional and mental state of our protagonist – and rightly so.

Ode to a Nightingale sees Keats seek the company of a nightingale. A nightingale at peace as it has experienced no suffering like humanity. It was born into nature; it knows the trees and the grass and the plants. We know that the nightingale is a conflicting opposite to Keats’s protagonist: the nightingale ‘singest of summer in full-throated ease’ as there is joy in its simplistic life, whereas the protagonist has ‘been half in love with easeful Death’ as the world becomes such a sorrowful and painful place to be that even suicide becomes a viable option.

The poem is not just an ode to a peaceful, care-free bird. It is an ode to nature. An ode to all things naturally beautiful – the undamaged trees, stars, plants and wildlife. It is an ode to peace and joy and simplicity. Keats is almost romantic about nature. There is a spirit of romance between the protagonist, Keats and the surrounding nature which makes the poem feel elegant whether you’re reading aloud, listening or reading in your head. It is pure elegance.

All in all, Ode to a Nightingale was relevant in 1819 about man. In 2015, it is relevant about nature. The thought-provoking poem shows how man could live: in harmony and peace. It also shows us, though, how destructive man’s life on Earth really has been. We have been disruptive and anything but tranquil in our relatively short time on this planet and just as John Keats channels his thoughts through the nightingale, we should really try to be more at one with the nature we envy.