Written on a spring day of exceptional warmth and beauty in 1819,
the 'Ode to a nightingale' is a meditation on the eternal purity
of the bird's song. Its unrelenting poignancy reminds Keats, still
haunted by the painful death of his brother, of the inevitable sadness
of man's mortality. The opening lines of one of the most famous
and evocative poems in the English language are reproduced here
from an edition published in 1888, with decorations by the American
artist W.H. Low.
Bird Sounds on CD, compiled and edited by Ron Kettle and
Richard Ranft of the British Library Sound Archive. This recording
of the song of the nightingale, of extraordinarily rich virtuosity,
was made by Douglas Bower in Hampshire, in June 1973.