Away! away! for I will fly to thee,Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards,But on the viewless wings of Poesy,Though the dull brain perplexes and retards (Lines 31-34)
This passage is an extract from John Keats’s celebrated poem Ode to a Nightingale. The poet listens to the song of a nightingale, which has a charming effect on him and leads him to long for an escape from the human world to the romantic realm of the bird. Here he reflects on the power of his poetic fancy to transport him to the lovely woodland of the bird.
Keats originally proposed to drink some old, invigorating, colourful wine to fly into the shady forest of the bird. But now he changes his mind and decides to seek no assistance from Bacchus, who is, in Greek mythology, the god of wine. The poet does no more intend to fly in the wind-god’s chariot, driven by his favourite animal, leopards. What he implies is that the intoxication of wine is not at all needed by him to transport himself to the world of beauty of the nightingale. He rather proposes to take the help of his poetic fancy for the purpose. Of course, he admits that he still suffers from the initial effect of the bird’s song and that his brain is yet to recover its normalcy to give full vent to his poetic fancy.
These lines are finely indicative of Keats’s romantic temper and imaginative excellence. The concept of Bacchus and his ‘pards’ has a touch of Hellenism, although Keats’s classical knowledge in the matter does not seem all sound, for leopards are generally attributed as the favourites of Venus.