Odes of Inspiration


 Ode to a Nightingale

Ode to the West Wind

Odes of Inspiration


Sindy Simms

In two classic “odes” by Romance poets, John Keats, and Percy Bysshe Shelley, nature is the muse of inspiration. The artistic movement in literature of the Romantic era emphasized nature, beauty, and meditation connecting the artist to a liberated state. The new Enlightenment philosophies of German philosophers, like Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) greatly influenced the expansion of thought, art, architecture, and literature. The French Revolution became an exciting catalyst for change. The Romance poets free thinking allowed for solitude in nature to inspire their artistic souls. Both Keats, and Shelley used the poetic form of the ode, to personify something immortal in nature. The two poets, Keats, and Shelley share the idea of the immortality of art transposed in their odes as an element of nature.

In John Keats, “Ode to a Nightingale,” the nightingale is a symbol of beauty, freedom, and immortality, the night itself a soothing pool of darkness, “. . .in embalmed darkness, guess each sweet/Wherewith the seasonable month endows,” (Keats) a place of solitude as in meditation from which art springs. It is only in this state of quiet repose that the speaker can find solace from the mundane world to become inspired by the song that awakens him from somnambulism, “Forlorn! the very word is like a bell/To toll me back from thee to my sole self” (Keats). The nightingale is a symbol of the immortality of art, as John Keats desires of his poetry.

Similarly, in Percy Bysshe Shelley’s, “Ode to the West Wind” the poet uses metaphysical notions, and invokes the wild west wind, to come and dust away old paradigms, and forms in art, archaic styles that bind, he beseeches the wind they be blown away, “Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead/Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing,” (Shelley). He incants the wind to scatter his words in the universe, “Drive my dead thoughts over the universe/Like withered leaves to quicken a new birth” (Shelley). The seasonal theme of nature’s ever changing yet eternal self is reflective of Shelley wishes in regards to art, and poetry, and to his poetry having its own continuity, and power.

The final line of Keats, ode, ask a philosophical question of enlightenment, “Was it a vision, or a waking dream?/Fled is that music:—Do I wake or sleep?” (Keats). The Romance poet’s philosophy, of the evolution of poetry, is of transcendence, freedom, and liberation. Both Keats, and Shelley’s metaphysical visions were inspired by natures beauty, Keats, by her tranquility, and Shelley by her shear power to cause sweeping change.


*This  short essay was written on the spot for an exam last Monday


5 thoughts on “Odes of Inspiration

  1. Dewin Nefol says:

    Hey Sindy,

    You wrote…’this short essay was written on the spot for an exam last Monday’…and it’s excellent work, I can understand why your tutor was impressed…your obvious liking for these poets allowed the solitude of an exam to inspire your intellectual soul to seek its natural state…intuitively 😉 Odes of inspiration indeed! With work this good, you’ll glide through ASU with honours.

    Both poems are masterful. There is deep adoration of Nature in their receptive gaze and wondrous imagery in their hypnotic verse. I enjoyed both tremendously and found them an absolute delight. If I were asked to choose between the two, my preference would lie with Keats’s work: perhaps it was the melody, the rhythm and rhyming? I have favourite lines from his ode, which I felt encapsulated the totality of the moment – the stillness of his enveloping reverie…

    ..tender is the night,

    And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne,

    Cluster’d around by all her starry Fays;

    But here there is no light,

    Save what from heaven is with the breezes blown

    Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy ways.

    Such genius…’So sweet, the sense faints picturing them!’ (Shelley) 🙂

    The painting of Melusine you include, Nature’s enchanted dream, is sublime…nothing that inspiration could desire, or art aspire to become, has been spared in her elegance and beauty. She is Nature idealised in myth.

    Sindy, I visited your wonderful Blog today looking for inspiration and knowing I’d find arresting material to encourage and influence my thoughts, and add sparkle to my day. I was not disappointed on either account. It was a pleasure to be here as always. Thank you 🙂

    Hoping all’s well always in all ways and in all ways always well.

    Have a wonderful week. Good luck with the Brit Lit!

    Take care SS.


    DN – 07/03/2016

  2. Dearest friend, and most avid supporter, your kind remarks filled my heart with joy and tears from, well the obvious place, my eye came down. lol Thank you so much for being my literature soul friend, and even so far away. You have helped me so much! You have seen my progression in academic writing, you, om, and my sister have been there for me through out this last couple of years, and I do feel so accordingly blessed.

    I love your always poetic responses, your poem will be epic, and I know that you will shine like Excalibur raised high in the setting sun. So we are going to have One Heck oh a Graduation party, because you know om will be there too. I am so excited now.

    Again thank you, thank you, thank you so much. I do love you dearly.


    • Dewin Nefol says:

      Aww 😀 You are a wonderful friend SS, supportive and kind in equal measure, generous with your time and your interest, and always willing to share the mysteries of the deeper blue. That we share commonalities in our enjoyment of literature and art is a wonderful thing…and always provides a springboard for further discussion and research.

      I know your academic achievements are all of your own doing through hard work and sustained effort, such is your determination and enthusiasm to do well and be successful. You have great respect for the subjects you study (including Math), and embrace them all with passion and the desire for personal fulfilment – it’s not just success in the material sense that has you strive, but passion for learning and hunger for knowledge…and that is why you’ll make an excellent teacher, because you care.

      Warm, caring friends and loving family always support you – we are blessed to know you and have us share your journey. 5000 miles away is no distance at all in the grand scheme of things….we’re practically neighbours lol 🙂

      Graduation Day will certainly be a day to remember! I’m certain the next two and half years will fly by, and before you know it you’ll be organising a mortar board and gown and considering best options for your acceptance speech lol 😀 Can’t wait!

      I like the sound of the sun-glinting on Excalibur, and the epic nature of the poem. Ahh, one can but dream! 🙂

      So…onwards with renewed confidence and purposeful ambition…and more of that Scorpio fire lighting the way ahead! ASU is going to be an amazing 2 year adventure. Roll on September!

      Well, it’s daybreak here, a magical sunrise to welcome in a new week, and I must away to wander its unfolding path. Until next time… 🙂


      DN – 07/03/2016

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s