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"Ode to a Nightingale" is either the garden of the Spaniards Inn, Hampstead, London, or, according to Keats' friend Charles Armitage Brown, under a plum tree in the garden of Keats House, also in Hampstead. According to Brown, a nightingale had built its nest near his home in the spring of 1819. Inspired by the bird's song, Keats composed the poem in one day. It soon became one of his 1819 odes and was first published in Annals of the Fine Arts the following July. "Ode to a Nightingale" is a personal poem that describes Keats's journey into the state of Negative Capability. The tone of the poem rejects the optimistic pursuit of pleasure found within Keats's earlier poems and explores the themes of nature, transience and mortality, the latter being particularly personal to Keats. The nightingale described within the poem experiences a type of death but does not actually die. Instead, the songbird is capable of living through its song, which is a fate that humans cannot expect.
John Keats (1795-1821) was an English Romantic poet. The poetry of Keats is characterized by sensual imagery, most notably in the series of odes. Today his poems and letters are some of the most popular and most analyzed in English literature.