Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

THE NIGHTINGALE;

A CONVERSATION POEM,

Written in April 1798.

No cloud, no relique 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 tho’ 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 !

*“ Most musical, most melancholy.”] This passage in Milton possesses an excellence far superior to that of mere description. It is spoken in the character of the melancholy man, and has therefore a dramatic propriety. The author makes this remark, to rescue himself from the charge of having alluded with levity, to a line in Milton : a charge than which none could be more painful to him except perhaps that of having ridiculed his Bible.

A melancholy Bird ? Oh! idle thought !
In nature there is nothing melancholy.
But some night-wandering man, whose heart was

pierced
With the remembrance of a grievous wrong,
Or slow distemper, or neglected love,
(And so poor Wretch ! fill'd all things with himself
And made all gentle sounds tell back the tale
Of his own sorrow) he, and such as he,
First named these notes a melancholy strain :
And many a poet echoes the conceit; .
Poet who hath been building up the rhyme
When he had better far have stretch'd his limbs
Beside a brook in mossy forest-dell,
By Sun or Moon-light, to the influxes
Of shapes and sounds and shifting elements
Surrendering his whole spirit, of his song
And of his fame forgetful! so his fame
Should share in Nature's immortality,
A venerable thing ! and so his song
Should make all Nature lovelier, and itself
Be lov'd like Nature ! But 'twill not be so; .
And youths and maidens most poetical,
Who lose the deep’ning twilights of the spring
In ball-rooms and hot theatres, they still

Full of meek sympathy must heave their sighs
O’er Philomela's pity-pleading strains.

My Friend, and thou, our Sister! we have learnt A different lore: we may not thus profane 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 utter 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, sounds 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! On moonlight bushes,
Whose dewy leafits 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 vow'd and dedicate To something more than Nature in the grove) Glides thro' 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 these wakeful Birds Have all burst forth in Choral ministrelsy, As if one quick and sudden Gale had swept An hundred airy harps ! And she hath watch'd

Many a Nightingale perch giddily
On blosmy twig still swinging from the breeze,
And to that motion tune his wanton song
Like tipsy joy that reels with tossing head.

Farewell, o 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 Play-mate. 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 beheld 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 moon-beam! Well ! It is a father's tale : But if that Heaven

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »