Written version of "Ode to a Nightingale"

Poem: You Reach Out Your Arms

Today’s poem was prompted by the writing challenge posted at the blog 20 Lines A Day.

The challenge was to write a poem on any theme with any style and include the following line from John Keats’s “Ode to a Nightingale”:

“Thou was not born for death, immortal bird!”

Speaking of death, John Keats passed away at 25, at which age he had already published 54 poems. The line quoted above speaks of the everlasting reward for the bird’s beautiful music, as set against the tough backdrop of growing older with time.

An interesting point about “Ode to a Nightingale” is that poet John Keats presents the bird as being renewable and able to change, as though its music can continue on forever. Yet the nightingale’s song is not like the reality that life is subject to time and has a physical end… The sweet music of the bird seems to transcend all of these limitations for the poet.

Here is my entry:


You Reach Out Your Arms

You do not have wings

Yet I have seen you fly above me,

As you reach out your arms

When I feel sad

And pull me up to your own level.


You will live beyond your body

As your positive spirit affects all people around you,

Even those who have not felt your warm hands

Or the strength of your arms in an embrace.


Your soul meets the birds that fly above

And you will live in my mind as

A figure who lifts me up

When I cannot feel my own arms or soul.

Thou was not born for death, immortal Bird!


©2012 Christy Birmingham


51 thoughts on “Poem: You Reach Out Your Arms

  1. Gail Thornton

    Thank you Christy – the poem begins earthbound, being pulled up to the spirit’s level, and then soars taking the poet with it. I love this, and after reading several times, the tightness and language are remarkable.


  2. Red

    This is a wonderful tribute. I am sensing family. You did a terrific job with this one. I adore TKAM. It is one of my all time faves.


  3. Julie Catherine

    A lovely poem, Christy, and wonderful tribute to your mother … the wind beneath your wings, lifting you up when you are in need of lifting …. (((hugs))) ~ Love to you, my friend! Julie xoxox


  4. Aquileana

    Hello Christy ★

    Wow how amazing it was to find this poem written by you in which you include a line from John Keats’s “Ode to a Nightingale” (“Thou was not born for death, immortal Bird!”).

    I just couldn´t believe it!!! 🙂 I am now thinking that these tiny coincidences we have been finding out lately are not so little after all…

    Regarding “You Reach Out Your Arms” I found it is a sort of ode to ideal love, meaning the one that reaches and stays at your soul and your heart.

    Referring “Ode to a Nightingale” by Keats… I have checked out the analysis and it says that in the fourth stanza of Keats´s poem: “the speaker tells the nightingale to fly away, and he will follow him but through poetry, which will give him “viewless wings”..

    Don´t you think this poetic idea is absolutely beautiful?…

    Well then, you also use the poetic image of a bird without wings which despite that, “flies above you”

    I particularly like the last stanza, where you make reference to that “bird without wings”…

    I think that this image can be related to a metaphor of the soul itself, attempting to break free in order to meet other soul-birds flying high above too…

    And as I see it, that bird you were talking about represents Hope, Carefulness and “above all ” (like the nightingale that flies above)… Well… Love (what else?)…

    “That bird” ( “that has already flown”) is a powerful inspirational figure whose forces will “lift you up, when you cannot feel your own arms or soul”.

    This is the soul bird that will let you spread your own “wings” (yes, because you do have invisible wings and a poetic halo too 😉

    I would say that I can see now how your spirit rises following the ethereal flight of that immortal bird…


    Well after saying goodbye I am adding some links below for you:

    1) Ode Benedict Cumberbatch reads ““Ode to a Nightingale” By John Keats:

    2) From Twitterland

    @aquileana Keats´s Poem "Ode to a Nightingale" . Analysis: http://t.co/iopGEmahwe— aquileana (@aquileana) October 9, 2013

    3) From Pinterest: “You Reach Out Your Arms By Christy Birmingham


    Sending you much love, little Nightingale;



    1. Christy Birmingham Post author

      Why hello there, my fellow Nightingale! Yes, the bird really is an intriguing metaphor for poetry. I see it as being hopeful and love, so much love, in my poem. You are quite right there!

      Your reference to Keats is exquisite. With poetry, the bird learns to fly, as though the words can give it strength… and that video reading was heavenly. Now that it is tagged on this post I can listen anytime! How wonderful.

      Speaking of wonderful… you are too! I’m so glad you breathed new life into this poem.



      1. Aquileana

        Guten tag Christy Nightingale Birmingham;

        I am glad that you liked the video & my comment…
        I LOVE your words above in which you say:

        “With poetry, the bird learns to fly, as though the words can give it strength”…

        Yes, I agree with you and may add to your lines:
        As long as “the Soul Bird” keeps on flying with those invisible wings… well: “The poetry of the Earth would never die” (quoting John Keats here):

        YOU are wonderful, my dear… I admire how you express meanings and how you catch the unattainable essence of words through your poems…

        Hugs back at you;

        Aquileana 😉


  5. Aquileana

    “Ode to a Nightingale”. Poem by John Keats. Read by Benedict Cumberbatch

    “La Belle Dame Sans Merci”. Poem by John Keat. Read by Mark Bradshaw (Bright Star):

    To my Poetic Galpal; love; Aquileana 😉



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