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O'er Philomela's pity-pleading strains.
My friend, and my friend's sister ! we have learnt
A different lore : we may not thus profano
Nature's sweet voices always full of love
And joyance! 'Tis the merry nightingale
That crowds, and hurries, and precipitates,
With fast thick warble, his delicious notes,
As he were fearful that an April night
Would be too short for him to uitter forth
His love-chant, and disburthen his full soul
Of all its music! and I know a grove
Of large extent, hard by a castle huge,
Which the great lord inhabits not : and so
This grove is wild with tangling underwood,
And the trim walks are broken up, and grass,
Thin grass and king-cups grow within the paths.
But never elsewhere in one place I knew
So many Nightingales: and far and near
In wood and thicket over the wide grove
They answer and provoke each other's songs-
With skirmish and capricious passagings,
And murmurs musical, and swift jug-jug,
And one low piping sound more sweet than all —
Stirring the air with such an harmony,
That, should you close your eyes, you might almost
Forget it was not day.
A most gentle maid
Who dwelleth in her hospitable home
Hard by the castle, and at latest eve
(Even like a lady vowed and dedicate
To something more than nature in the grove)
Glides through the pathways; she knows all their notes,
That gentle maid ! and oft, a moment's space,
What time the moon was lost behind a cloud,
Hath heard a pause of silence; till the moon
Emerging, hath awaken'd earth and sky
With one sensation, and those wakeful birds
Have all burst forth with choral minstrelsy,
As if one quick and sudden gale had swept
An hundred airy harps ! And she hath watch'd
Many a Nightingale perch giddily
On bloss’my twig still swinging from the breeze,
And to that motion tune his wanton song,
Like tipsy joy that reels with tossing head.
Farewell, 0 warbler! till to-morrow eve,
And you, my friends ! farewell, a short farewell !
We have been loitering long and pleasantly,
And now for our dear homes.—That strain again !
Full fain it would delay me! My dear babe,
Who, capable of no articulate sound,
Mars all things with his imitative lisp,
How he would place his hand beside his ear,
His little hand, the small forefinger up,
And bid us listen! and I deem it wise
To make him Nature's playmate. He knows well
The evening star : and once when he awoke
In most distressful mood (some inward pain
Had made up that strange thing, an infant's dream)
I hurried with him to our orchard plot,
And he beholds the moon, and hush'd at once
Suspends his sobs, and laughs most silently,
While his fair eyes that swam with undropt tears
Did glitter in the yellow moonbeam! Well-
It is a father's tale. But if that Heaven
Should give me life, his childhood shall grow up
Familiar with these songs, that with the night
He may associate joy ! Once more farewell,
Sweet Nightingale! once more, my friends, farewell!
SONNET TO THE NIGHTINGALE.
Sweet bird that sing’st away the early hours
Of winters past or coming, void of care,
Well pleased with delights which present are,
Fair seasons, budding sprays, sweet-smelling flowers;
To rocks, to springs, to rills, from leafy bowers,
Thou thy Creator's goodness dost declare,
And what dear gifts on thee he did not spare-
A stain to human sense in sin that lowers.
What soul can be so sick, which by thy songs
(Attir'd in sweetness) sweetly is not driven
Quite to forget earth's turmoils, spites, and wrongs,
And lift a reverend eye and thought to heaven?
Sweet artless songster, thou my mind dost raise
To airs of spheres,-yes, and to angels' lays.
THE POET AND THE NIGHTINGALE.
Said a people to a Poet, “Go out from among us straightway !
While we are thinking earthly things, thou singest of divine. There's a little fair brown nightingale, who, sitting in the gateway,
Makes better music to our ear than any song of thine !"
The Poet went out weeping—the Nightingale ceased chanting;
“Now, wherefore, thou Nightingale, is all thy sweetness done?” "I cannot sing my earthly things, the heavenly poet wanting,
Whose highest harmony includes the lowest under sun.” The Poet went out weeping, and died abroad bereft there,
The bird flew to his grave and died, amid a thousand wails; And when I last came by the place, I swear the music left there Was only of the Poet's song, and not the Nightingale’s.
ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING.
My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains
One minute passed, and Lethe-wards had sunk :
'Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,
But being too happy in thine happiness,
That thou, light-wing'd Dryad of the trees,
In some melodious plot
Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,
Singest of summer in full-throated ease.
O for a draught of vintage ! that hath been
Cool'd a long age in the deep-delved earth,
Tasting of Flora and the country green,
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-stained mouth;
That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,
And with thee fade away into the forest dim:
Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget
What thou among the leaves hast never known,
The weariness, the fever, and the fret
Here, where men sit and hear each other groan;
Where palsy shakes a few sad last grey hairs,
Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies;
Where but to think is to be full of sorrow,
And leaden-eyed despairs,
Where Beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes,
Or new Love pine at them beyond to-morrow.
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 : Already with thee! tender is the night,
And haply the queen-moon is on her throne,
Cluster'd around by all her starry fays;
But here there is no light,
Save what from heaven is with the breezes blown
Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy ways.
I cannot see what flowers are at my feet,
Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs, But, in embalmed darkness, guess each sweet
Wherewith the seasonable month endows The grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild;
White hawthorn, and the pastoral eglantine ;
Fast-fading violets cover'd up in leaves;
And mid-May's eldest child,
The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine,
The murmurous haunt of fies on summer eves.
Darkling I listen; and for many a time
I have been half in love with easeful Death, Call'd him soft names in many a mused rhyme,
To take into the air my quiet breath ; Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
To cease upon the midnight with no pain,
While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad
In such an ecstasy !
Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain-
To thy high requiem become a sod.
Thou wast not born for earth, immortal bird !
No hungry generations tread thee down; The voice I hear this passing night was heard
In ancient days by emperor and clown; Perhaps the self-same song that found a path
Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home, She stood in tears amid the alien corn;
The same that ofttimes hath
Charm'd magic casements, opening on the foam,
Of perilous seas, in faëry lands forlorn.
Forlorn ! the very word is like a bell
To toll me back from thee to my sole self ! Adieu ! the fancy cannot cheat so well
As she is famed to do, deceiving elf.
Adieu ! adieu ! thy plaintive anthem fades
Past the near meadows, over the still stream, Up the hill-side; and now 'tis buried deep
In the next valley glades : Was it a vision, or å waking dream?
Fled is that music: Do I wake or sleep?
'Tis night ! awake, awake! And from thy leafy covert raise thy voice ! Pour out thy soul of melody and make
The silent night rejoice !
Call to the echoes, call
To the far woods that steep'd in moonlight lie;
Call to the quiet sea, the desolate hall,
And each one shall reply.
From out thy leafy boughs
Thy voice is as the trumpet's through the wild,
Stirring all hearts; which doth from rest arouse
Mother and sleeping child.
Yet not with sense of dread
Peasants are gathering in the midnight hours,
Whilst high-born maidens go with stately tread
Down paths of moonlit flowers.
The gentle poet speeds
Forth in the dewy hush of night, elate
With song and love, and his sweet fancy feeds,
Hailing thee, his own mate.
Pour forth, pour forth thy strain
Until the blue depths of the heavens are fillid;
Until the memory of thy secret pain
With thine own song is still’d.
Oh ! pour, as thou didst ever,
Thy tide of song forth from thy hidden tree,
Like unspent waters of a viewless river
Feeding the mighty sea !
When poesy divine
Made visible glory by the sacred spring,
Thou wast a voice unto the mystic Nine
At midnight warbling.