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First heard before the shallow cuckoo's bill,

Portend success in love; O if Jove's will
Have link'd that amorous power to thy soft lay,

Now timely sing, ere the rude bird of hate
Foretell my hopeless doom in some grove nigh.

As thou from year to year hast sung too late For my relief, yet hadst no reason why :

Whether the muse or love call thee his mate, Both them I serve, and of their train am I.

John Milton.


APRIL, 1798.

No cloud, no relic of the sunken day,
Distinguishes the west ; no long, thin slip
Of sullen light--no obscure, trembling hues.
Come; we will rest on this old mossy bridge!
You see the glimmer of the stream beneath,
But hear no murmuring; it flows silently
O'er its soft bed of verdure. All is still-
A balmy night! and though the stars be dim,
Yet let us think upon the vernal showers
That gladden the green earth, and we shall find
A pleasure in the dimness of the stars.
And hark! the nightingale begins its song,
“ Most musical, most melancholy" bird!
A melancholy bird! Oh, idle thought!
In nature there is nothing melancholy.

'Tis the merrry 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 utter forth
His lone chant, and disburden his full soul
Of all its music!

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 song
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 a harmony,
That should you close your eyes, you might almost
Forget it was not day! On moonlit bushes,
Whose dewy leaflets are but half disclosed,
You may, perchance, behold them on the twigs,
Their bright, bright eyes—their eyes both bright and full,
Glistening, while many a glow-worm in the shade
Lights up her love-torch.

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 path ways; 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 awakened earth and sky
With one sensation, and these wakeful birds
Have all burst forth in choral minstrelsy,
As if some sudden gale had swept at once
A hundred airy harps! and she hath watched
Many a nightingale perched giddily
On blossoming twig still swinging from the breeze,
And to that motion tune his wanton song,
Like tipsy joy that reels with tossing head.


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 past, and Lethe-ward sunk :
'Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,

But being too happy in thy happiness,
Than thou, light-wingel Dryad of the trees,

In some melodious plot
Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,
Singest of summer in full-throated ease.

Oh for a draught of vintage,

Cooled a long age in the deep-delved earth, Tasting of Flora and the country green,

Dance, and Provençal song, and sun-burned mirth! Oh 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 groanWhere palsy shakes a few sad, last gray hairs

Where youth grows pale, and specter-thin, and dies; Where but to think is to be full of sorrow,

And leaden-eyed despairs;
Where beauty can not 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 train perplexes and retards ; Already with thee tender is the night,

And haply the queen-moon is on her throne, Clustered 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 can not 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, covered up in leaves,

And mid-May's oldest child,
The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine,
The murmurous haunt of bees on summer eves.

Darkling I listen; and for many a time

I have been half in love with easeful death,

Called 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 death, 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 oft-times hath
Charmed magic casements opening on the foam
Of perilous seas, in fairy lands forlorn.

Forlorn! the very word is like a bell,

To toll me back from thee to my sole self! Adieu ! the fancy can not 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 a waking dream?
Fled is that music-do I wake or sleep?

JOHN KEATS, 1796–1820.



Prize thou the nightingale,
Who soothes thee with his tale,

And wakes the woods around;
A singing feather, hewa winged and wandering sound :

Whose tender carroling
Sets all ears listening

Unto that living lyre,
Whence flow the airy notes his ecstasies inspire ;

Whose shrill, capricious song,
Breathes like a flute along,

With many a careless tone-
Music of thousand tongues, formed by one tongue alone.

O charming creature rare,
Can aught with thee compare ?

Thou art all song—thy breast
Thrills for one month o’ th' year—is tranquil all the rest.

Thee wondrous we may call-
Most wondrous this of all,

That such a tiny throat
Should wake so loud a sound, and pour so loud a note.

Maria TESSELSCHADE VISSCHER— Born in the 16th century. Translation of DB. BOWRING.



The rose looks out in the valley,

And thither will I go!
To the rosy vale, where the nightingale

Sings his song of woe.

The virgin is on the river side,

Culling the lemons pale :
Thither-yes ! thither will I go,
To the rosy vale, where the nightingale

Sings his song of woe.

The fairest fruit her hand hath cull’d,

'Tis for her lover all:
Thither-yeg! thither will I go,
To the rosy vale, where the nightingale

Sings bis song of woe.

In her hat of straw, for her gentle swain,

She has placed the lemons pale :
Thither-yes! thither will I go,
To the rosy vale, where the nightingale

Sings his song of woe.
Translation of Joun Bowking.

GIL VICENTE, 1480-1557.

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