Humanist Voices in Verse: After Keats Ode to a Nightingale

This week’s poem is by HNN’s Poetry Editor Daniel Thomas Moran. He is a retired dentist and Boston University Assistant Professor, former Poet Laureate of Suffolk County, New York and the author of seven collections of poetry. His seventh, A Shed for Wood is forthcoming from Salmon Poetry in Ireland. He lives in Webster, New Hampshire with his wife, Karen, where he has taken on the role of Unemployed Poet and Anecdotalist.

If you’d like to contribute original poetry to Humanist Voices in Verse, write to with “Poetry” in the subject line. Please send no more than three poems for consideration per week.

After Keats Ode to a Nightingale

Prepare for me the feast divine,
a table so resplendent.
A place to sip the timeless wine,
from the vineyards of contentment.

I dread not nightfall’s mystery,
from this vantage in the twilight.
As did I then a youthful me,
bathed in morning’s dew light.

Mine ear is cocked in deference,
To the far winds beckoning.
To let my eternity commence,
from this faithless mortal reckoning.

Oh, Nightingale at my garden’s gate,
serenading sweet the fractured hours.
Your strains do cause my soul elate,
making the rumbling darkness cower.

Dim Forever be this my final thought?
Mine ears filled with this perfection?
Is this raspy growl what time has wrought?
Myself the furrowed face in this reflection?

Oh Age, cruel as the driver’s whip,
the stinging winter lies cross my back.
The fire of life falling from my grasp,
my pastel sunrise must fade to black.

Shadow spare me not from your insistence,
Nor death, the brine in this falling tear.
My heart will cease without resistance,
sure my own day of darkness nears.

With this toiling my gnarly fingers ache,
Expression eludes me like a virgin.
Now my face burns with each icy flake,
of these snows silent and urgent.

Oh, mock me no more you wistful youth,
Cast not a fretful eye upon me,
Take heed all, those truths senescence speaks,
so soon to be words spoken for thee.

—Daniel Thomas Moran