If one sits down to read John Keats’s poetry after a long day, with a mind busy with thoughts but a body laden with tiredness, the opening line of ‘Ode to a Nightingale’ strikes a chord: “My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains/ My senses…” Even the unexpected and disjointed “my senses” seems appropriate to the condition described by the speaker. The immediacy of conscious thought is also present in the self-absorbed reverie of the first person voice. However, we cannot preserve this state of mind if we are to truly understand the beauty of this poem. As we move away from this first stanza the speaker meanders through a maze of ideas, where the last line of one stanza often instigates the opening of the next, and if we attempt to grasp some underpinning string of logic in the poem we will inevitably fail and feel rather lost. But the ephemeral quality of the Nightingale's song that we are alerted to at the end of the first stanza leads us away from the heaviness of conscious thought. Through the description “light-winged Dryad of the trees,” we are transported away from our immediate reality, and hence encouraged to enter a trance-like state. This trance-like state is the very beauty of the poem. Keats challenges us to separate our conscious thoughts from our subconscious feelings; only in achieving a trance-like state of mind are we able to follow the flow of the poem rather than struggle against it by seeking logic. It is as if the inhale and exhale of a breath that we are lead to spontaneously oscillate between emotional oppositions; one moment there is the lively rhythm, movement and colour of “Dance, and Provencal song, and sunburnt mirth!” and the next moment we descend to a slow, agonising remembrance: “where men sit and hear each other groan;/ Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last gray hairs.” As the poem progresses the words of the poem itself seem to become the Nightingale’s song. It is easy to imagine the rhythmic repetition and crescendo of “Away! away! for I will fly to thee” as two accented notes in the birdsong, embodying this feeling of escapism. Even the imagery of the following words “on the viewless wings of poesy” seems to blend the bird and the poem into one form. Just as birdsong and poetry become one, the power of this trance-like state seems to make all things harmoniously blended. So much so, that even death and immortality become blended thoughts. The nightingale’s song moves to a mournful tone that reminds the speaker of a requiem. But this very mournful tone is the precursor of the following lines: “Perhaps the self-same song that found a path/ Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home… The same that oft-times hath/ Charm’d magic casements, opening on the foam…” Through these lines the nightingale’s song is extended to the past, and also to the uncertain future beyond the “magic casement” – and hence achieving immortality. The speaker must eventually return to reality, as must we, but at the end of the poem it is the remembrance of the beauty of that trance-like state of mind that is remembered “Do I wake or sleep?” and the ache and numbness we empathised with is not only relieved but long forgotten.