Subscribe to BirdNote

Sign up to receive a weekly email preview of the following week's shows!

Sign Up
Support BirdNote

Help BirdNote tell more stories, reach more people, and inspire action.


You are here

Ode to a Nightingale

A poem by John Keats

The Common Nightingale is a shy and plain-looking bird, but its song is lovely. In Ode to a Nightingale, the English poet John Keats wrote: "Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird! No hungry generations tread thee down; ..."
You can learn more about the nightingale from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. Read the full poem at

Full Transcript

from Ode to a Nightingale

By John Keats

This is BirdNote!
[Song of the Nightingale]
The beauty of bird song will abide as long as the natural world abides. In Ode to a Nightingale, his famous poem about death and immortality, the English poet John Keats wrote:

Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird!
No hungry generations tread thee down;
The voice I hear this passing night was heard
In ancient days by emperor and clown:
Perhaps the self-same song that found a path
Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,
She stood in tears amid the alien corn;
The same that oft-times hath
Charm’d magic casements, opening on the foam
Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.

Forlorn! The very word is like a bell
To toll me back from thee to my sole self!
Adieu! The fancy cannot cheat so well
As she is fam’d to do, deceiving elf.
Adieu! Adieu! Thy plaintive anthem fades
Past the near meadows, over the still stream,
Up the hill-side; and now ‘tis buried deep
In the next valley glades:
Was it a vision, or a waking dream?
Fled is that music: - Do I wake or sleep?

[Song of the Nightingale]

To read Ode to a Nightingale in its entirety, come to
I’m Frank Corrado.       

Song of the Nightingale provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Recorded by A.B. Van den Berg.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2013 Tune In to   July 2013   Narrator: Frank Corrado

ID# 062906KeatsKPLU    keats-01FCr

Sights & Sounds

Related topics:

Related field notes: