The Romantics had a Drinking Problem

Sometimes a phrase, stanza, line, or sentence will just catch you a certain way where you can’t stop contemplating them. This stanza in Keat’s “Ode to a Nightingale” did that for me.

O for a draught of vintage! that hath been

Cool’d a long age in the deep-delvèd earth,

Dance, and Provençal song, and sunburnt mirth!

O for a beaker full of the warm South!

Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,

With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,

And purple-stainèd mouth;

That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,

And with thee fade away into the forest dim:

– “Ode to a Nightingale” by John Keats

 begin with, what a wonderful section of imagery! The tone of the poem isn’t altogether a happy one, however, this section is much more upbeat in what it conveys. Sometimes, I must say, I feel the same as Keat’s speaker in wishing for a “draught of


Returning to the title of this entry, I must admit, I was being purposefully hyperbolic. However, the Romantics do tend to get carried away with their frivolities. The Romantic era is characterized by Charles Baudelaire as being “precisely situated neither in choice of subject nor exact truth, but in the way of feeling.” These strong feelings sweep away the monotony of the real day-to-day life. What else epitomizes this concept than the idea of drinking and merry-making? Or the idea of using alcohol as an escape?

The Romantic philosophy is grounded in the concept of the rejection of the rational, logical, and “Englightenment” self. Science does not rule the day for the Romantics, who would much rather sit down and discuss the aesthetics of a painting than the mechanics behind why the moon revolves around Earth.

Another Romantic philosophy exemplified in this selection is the fascination with nature and a certain amount of “oneness” associated with nature. I’d love to experience what Keats conveys, a chilled glass in hand and relaxing on the back deck overlooking the “country-green.”

The Romantics wouldn’t look at drinking as a problem,  nor as a solution either. Merely as a complement to life, like a nice Merlot with a New York Strip.



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Filed under British Literature, English, School, Uncategorized

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