John Keats, an escapist, torn by the pains of practical life, escapes from the real world into the realm of the imagination. But there is a striking contrast between the world of reality, in which the poet actually lives, and the world of imagination, in which he wants to be. Now we are going to talk about the conflict between these two worlds since we find in his poems especially “Ode to a Greek urn”, “Ode to the nightingale” and “Ode to melancholy”.
In the real world, happiness, beauty, love and youth are transitory while in the imaginative world everything is beautiful and permanent. “Ode to the Nightingale” shows a clear conflict between the happiness and immortality of the genre and the misery and mortality of human life. The poem begins with a description of the effect of a nightingale’s song on the poet’s body and soul. As the poet says:
“My heart aches and a sleepy numbness aches.
My sense as if hemlock had drunk”
The song of the nightingale, for the poet, is a symbol of eternal joy. Nightingale’s world is the ideal one for him. Tiredness, fever and the anguish of reality make him unhappy. He wants to fade away in order to dissolve from the real world where, as the poet says:
“… youth grows pale and wraith-thin, and dies,
Where but to think is to be full of pain?
So, to free himself from the harshest and most painful reality of life, the poet wants to escape into the forest of dreams with the nightingale. As he says he;
“Get out! Get out! Because I will fly to you”
In his imaginative forest, the poet finds all the sensual enjoyment of his life that he wishes to have in an ideal world. This extreme of joy also reminds him of death. As we see in the poem:
“Now more than ever it seems good to die.
In such ecstasy.”
The poet now contrasts the mortality of human beings with the immortality of the nightingale. The song of nightingales, which the poet hears today, was heard in ancient times by emperors and clowns. It was also heard in fairyland where-
“…magical frames, that open in the foam
Of dangerous seas, in forsaken fairy land.”
The same ‘forlorn’ world as a bell brings you back from the fenced world to the real world. It is, for the poet, like a dream. As he says he;
“Was it a vision or a walking dream?
Fled is that music, do I wake up or sleep?
Thus in the poem we find a dynamic contrast between an imaginary world and a real world full of sorrows.
Like an inode to the nightingale, in the poem “ode to a Greek urn” we will also find a contrast between the permanence of purity, beauty and joy carved on the urn and the temporary joy of the world read. As the poet says;
You still immaculate bride of stillness!
You, adoptive son of silence and slow lime”.
In the imaginative world of art, the bride will remain intact forever, but in the real world it is quite impossible.
Keats also contrasts the permanence of art with the transience of real life. As the poet says,
“she can’t fade,….forever with you love, and she be fair.”
In real life, beauty and love are short-lived. Here the beloved ages with the passing of the years and loses her beauty. But the girl depicted on the Urn, which is a work of art, will never grow old and will stay young forever.
“Ode to Melancholy” is another poem that deals with the strange dilemma of human life. The poet says that melancholy lives in beauty and happiness. When we enjoy them we think that soon they will end. The duration of beauty makes us unhappy.
Melancholy, according to the poet –
“Dwell with beauty, beauty that must die.”
For the poet, melancholy dwells with the goddess of delight in the same temple. As the poet says;
“…in the very temple of veiled delight Melancholy…”
It shows the interrelation of pain and pleasure, joy and sadness, transience and permanence.
Finally, we can say that the world of imagination can shelter us for a short time, but it cannot provide us with a better reality solution. So everyone must face the contrast between these worlds and finally return to the real world.