I hope you find my blog psmoreadings.blogspot.in helpful in your pursuit of a career. We have been preparing objective questions and answers so far. As some of you mailed me, it is high time that we got ready for descriptive questions. Since HSA examination includes descriptive writing, this post will provide a few tips on how to get ready and prepare paragraph/ essay questions.
All competitive exams are time bound. It is not what we know, but what we can put forward within the stipulated time frame. The challenge is to present all relevant points within the least number of words/ sentences you have in your arsenal. I suggest you draft model paragraphs and get practiced before entering the exam hall. Writing is a skill that needed to have regular drilling. The write up must be well structured, systematic, easy to read and simple.
Write a paragraph a day
Wish you all the best.
Answer the following questions. Each question carries 5 marks. Maximum length of each essay should be two pages.
Attempt a critical analysis of Keats’ Ode to a Nightingale.
[It is good to have a clear idea on how to structure the write up and prioritize the things you want to include:
Paragraph 1: introduction to Keats – romantic poetry – literary forms – ode.
Para 2: theme of the poem – contrast between nightingale and human beings –escapism – personal vision and the longing for freedom
Para 3: romantic elements of the poem- imagery- treatment of nature- democratization of literature]
John Keats (1795-1821) is considered as one of the best romantic poets in English literature. He belongs to the second generation of romantic poets of 18th century who mounted on the ‘viewless wings of Poesy’ and introduced unknown lands of imagination into literature. He was instrumental in expressing the ‘fever and fret’ of everyday life and longed for the eternal bliss of immortality. Like other romantic poets, Keats too found human life on earth as a punishment and the transience of life tormented him. He realized the pain of human life as we are conscious of the past and the present and presented the natural world unaffected by the passage of time. He advocated the worship of beauty as a substitute for the pain of mundane existence. Since the Romantic Revival of 18th century was a movement against neoclassical literature which exposed the city life, Romantic writers attempted to make literature feasible to all. Odes were commonly used by all romantic writers including Keats. An ‘ode’ is a long lyric poem that is serious in subject and treatment, elevated in style and elevated in stanzaic structure. It is done in the form of an address.
The poem begins with the speaker’s declaration that he feels a drowsy numbness. This mental state makes him disenchanted with the world outside and he longs for something that can bring him back to life. This longing for something beyond the material world is a common feature of all romantic poetry. One can observe similar kinds of lines in poems like ‘Ode to a Skylark’ by Shelley or ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’ by Keats himself. The hopeless, disappointed and static condition suddenly gives way to the sweet music of a nightingale which helps him to come out of his numbness and reminds him of the immortal world. The speaker feels that the bird is immortal and it is untainted by earthly existence. Its ecstasy, rapture and joy make the poet aware of the condition of humanity which is tormented by the thoughts of the past and future. He realizes that the bird is free because it is not haunted by yesterday or tomorrow and it exist at the moment. Attracted by the ecstasy of the nightingale, the poets try to fly with it carried by Bacchus, the God of wine. Later he feels that the viewless wings of poesy can carry him to the bird. This contrast between human and the bird/ nature can be traced in the works of other romantic writers like Shelley (Ode to the West wind).
The poem can be considered as a typical romantic poem as it pours out the emotional conflict of the speaker at the outset. It is a spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings of the narrator and he is torn between the mortal and immortal worlds. Escapism is a feature of romantic poetry as the poem exposes the longing of the speaker to fade away in the forest with the bird. It is also interesting to note that the poet finds faults with humans as we are subject to the passage of time whereas the music of the nightingale is eternal. The instinctive life and ecstasy of the bird is praised by the poet. The use of natural imagery, rhythm and narration make the poem effective. The role of art in scaffolding human efforts to achieve immortality is also emphasized.