Rhyme in Ode to a Nightingale

Rhyme Examples in Ode to a Nightingale:

Ode to a Nightingale 4

"Darkling I listen;..."   (Ode to a Nightingale)

Keats brings the nightingale into the poem with this clever trio of words. Notice the rich recycling of sounds in “Darkling I listen”—in particular the short i, l, and n sounds. The careful attention to the sounds of the words shows, rather than simply tells, how the speaker listens.

"The grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild;..."   (Ode to a Nightingale)

Keats uses consonance to give the line a sound that suits the imagery it describes. In particular, Keats repeatedly employs th, t, and the liquid consonants—that is, r and l—to thicken and interconnect the words. These dense sounds take on the sonic equivalent of grasses, thickets, and groves of trees.

"Dance, and Provencal song, and sunburnt mirth!..."   (Ode to a Nightingale)

In this line, Keats uses assonance and consonance to create a chain of cascading sounds that runs from word to word. The n and c consonant sounds in ‘dance’ can be heard again in the second syllable of ‘Provencal,’ whose final syllable pairs nicely with the next word: ‘song.’ ‘Song,’ in turn, creates a slanted rim rhyme with ‘sun,’ and so on. Keats weaves this dense tapestry of vowel and consonant sounds in order to convey the sense of Dionysian abandon at the heart of the second stanza.

"In some melodious plot..."   (Ode to a Nightingale)

As is the case with many of Keats’s odes, the poem has stanzas comprised of ten lines each. Each stanza takes the rhyme scheme of ABABCDECDE. Most of the lines follow a clean iambic pentameter, but the eighth line of each stanza has only three beats. This alteration in meter creates a sense of suspense just before the final couplet, which allows for a forceful finish to the stanza.