An Extract from The Nightingale by Samuel Taylor Coleridge | Sunday Observer

An Extract from The Nightingale by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

A Conversation Poem, April, 1798.

No cloud, no relique of the sunken dayDistinguishes the West, no long thin slipOf 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 showersThat gladden the green earth, and we shall findA 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.But some night-wandering man whose heart was piercedWith the remembrance of a grievous wrong,Or slow distemper, or neglected love,(And so, poor wretch! filled all things with himself,And made all gentle sounds tell back the taleOf 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 rhymeWhen he had better far have stretched his limbsBeside a brook in mossy forest-dell,By sun or moon-light, to the influxesOf shapes and sounds and shifting elementsSurrendering his whole spirit, of his songAnd of his fame forgetful! so his fameShould share in Nature's immortality,A venerable thing! and so his songShould make all Nature lovelier, and itselfBe loved like Nature! But ‘twill not be so;And youths and maidens most poetical,Who lose the deepening twilights of the springIn ball-rooms and hot theatres, they stillFull of meek sympathy must heave their sighsO'er Philomela's pity-pleading strains.My Friend, and thou, our Sister! we have learntA different lore: we may not thus profaneNature's sweet voices, always full of loveAnd joyance! ‘Tis the merry NightingaleThat crowds and hurries, and precipitatesWith fast thick warble his delicious notes,As he were fearful that an April nightWould be too short for him to utter forthHis love-chant, and disburthen his full soulOf all its music!And I know a groveOf large extent, hard by a castle huge,Which the great lord inhabits not; and soThis 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 knewSo 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 allStirring the air with such a harmony,That should you close your eyes, you might almostForget it was not day! On moonlight 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.

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