“Ode to a Nightingale” by John Keats, read by Stephen Fry

Yesterday evening, I ran a quiz for friends on Zoom. One of the questions I posed was who wrote these lines:

“My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains
One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk:
‘Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,
But being too happy in thine happiness,—
That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees
In some melodious plot
Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,
Singest of summer in full-throated ease”.

The answer is, of course John Keats, the poem in question being “Ode to a Nightingale”.

Along with “Autumn”, “Ode to a Nightingale” is one of my favourite poems, written by a poet who died at a tragically young age.

You can find a wonderful reading of “Ode to a Nightingale”, read by Stephen Fry here,


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8 thoughts on ““Ode to a Nightingale” by John Keats, read by Stephen Fry

    1. K Morris Poet Post author

      Yes, Stephen Fry has just the right voice for reading this beautiful poem. I’m really pleased you enjoyed both the poem and the reading Veronica. Have you read the poem in Russian? I’d be interested to know whether it looses anything in the translation from English into Russian, hence my question.

      All the best, Kevin

      Reply
      1. Veronica

        Dear Kevin, I’ve read a beautiful translation of this poem by Yevgeny Vitkovsky. Even though the rhythm and the essence are the same, some tiny details, such as the expression “tender is the night,” are entirely omitted. Unfortunately, poetic translations rarely capture the splendour of the original. Nevertheless, I am happy that people speaking different languages can read Keats! Maybe, one day I’ll be brave enough to attempt translating this masterpiece, as well.

        Kind regards, Veronica.

    2. K Morris Poet Post author

      Dear Veronica. I’m delighted to read that you have enjoyed reading an excellent translation into Russian of “Ode”. As you say, poetry often loses something in translation. However its still wonderful that people from all over the world can, as you rightly say, enjoy Keats. If you do translate this lovely poem into Russian, I’m sure you will do a good job of doing so. Several years back I read Tolstoy’s “War and Peace”, all 20 odd volumes of it in braille! I did enjoy reading it, but wondered, whilst doing so how true to the original had the translator stayed in his translation. I’d like to read more Russian literature and will certainly do so. All the best, Kevin

      Reply

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