“Darkling I Listen”: Melancholia, Self and Creativity in Romantic Nightingale Poems
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The present article is an attempt to look at selected Romantic poems which concentrate on the image of the nightingale. Starting from Charlotte Smith’s sonnets and continuing with poems by other writers of the period, I will try to trace the link between nature and poetic convention in English Romanticism. While some of the nightingales which sing in Romantic poetry seem deeply symbolic, other forsake poetic tradition and stubbornly persist in their birdy nature, resisting descriptions in terms of melancholia or woe. Nevertheless, the fate of Philomela, whose sad story of violation identifies the nightingale with loss, suffering and poetic creation, still remains an important context for Romantic nightingale poems.
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