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I love John Keats‘s slow melancholy in his “Ode to a Nightingale“. Nostalgia rings steadfastly through the work and brings to mind a sure sense of loss over things that are no more coupled with an abiding gratitude for fine memories and the beautiful sensations they evoke. The nostalgia, the memories, serve as a balm for the weary soul crushed by the hard exile of life. And so the poem, for me, is an eminently spiritual one and soothes when read aloud well.

Keats trained as a physician before giving up medicine to write poetry full time and he expressed the sense that poetry should be a healing force in the world. Thus, it must be beautiful and touch what ails man, namely his soul. Benedict Cumberbatch’s reading of the poem suggests he understands and appreciates Keats’s sense of beauty as a healing solace. Close your eyes, listen, and prepare to be refreshed.

This is the last in a brief series of poetry readings in celebration of National Poetry Month, which ends today. You can listen to the others here and here.

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