A friend shared a quote today on my Facebook page and it has sat with me all day. I like quotes like that. The quote was by Shelley and is thus:
“A poet is a nightingale, who sits in darkness and sings to cheer its own solitude with sweet sounds”
-Percy Bysshe Shelley
The quote above is incomplete, however. Here is the full quote:
“A poet is a nightingale who sits in darkness and sings to cheer its own solitude with sweet sounds; his auditors are as men entranced by the melody of an unseen musician, who feel that they are moved and softened, yet know not whence or why.”
~Percy Bysshe Shelley
I remember reading a fairy tale many years ago by Hans Chrisitan Anderson about a nightingale (click for link to story). The quote brought back the memory of it and so, I did some research. Nightingales have been used as inspiration for many things, especially poetry. In fact, the nightingale is the symbol for poets. The nightingale has been the voice of nature, the poet’s muse, and a master of the arts. Even Shakespeare wrote about the nightingale in Sonnet 102:
“Our love was new, and then but in the spring,
When I was wont to greet it with my lays;
As Philomel in summer’s front doth sing,
And stops his pipe in growth of riper days:”
Philomel is the reference to the nightingale.
You would think that this must be a rather beautiful bird to have inspired such as Shakespeare and Shelley. Yet, in nature the bird is very plain. There is nothing in it’s outward appearance to suggest beauty. It looks like any common bird. It sings during the day, but is best known because it sings at night long after other birds have gone to bed. It’s song is loud and clear. It also is known for being able to sing louder near urban areas to overcome the noise of the city. The name ‘nightingale’ itself means ‘night songstress’. It was thought that it was the females that sing but it is, in fact, the males, and they are the ones that sing more regularly at night. Their song is, indeed, lovely. It has a large range made up of whistles and trills. The sad thing is that they are not found in America. Wouldn’t it be something to hear one here?
While I was researching this I found a short story about the nightingale written by Oscar Wilde. You can find it here. The irony to me is that because of the quote I was inspired, and wrote a poem and titled it The Nightingale and the Rose. Before I did any research. I didn’t even know Wilde had written about the nightingale. I was only familiar with The Hans Christian Anderson story. Then, looking for an image to go with my poem I came across a picture I liked, and, when I clicked on it, it took me to a site that referenced Wilde’s story: The Nightingale and the Rose. (And no, I haven’t read it, but am going to when I finish this post.) Well, they do say great minds think alike. I wonder if that applies to poets and writers as well.
Here is my version of The Nightgale and the Rose. Happy Tuesday!
The Nightingale and the Rose
By Jessica Scott
Why sing so sweetly, Nightingale
In your nest above?
Why sing so sadly, Nightingale,
Have you lost your ladylove?
Where did she go, sweet Nightingale?
Why leave you alone so?
Can she not hear your beautiful song?
How does she not know?
Come to me, sweet Nightingale,
I’ll give you a warm place to rest.
Live with me in my sweet bower,
Come and be my guest.
I’ll make you a soft pillow, Nightingale,
A place to rest your head,
And you can sing your song to me,
As we make ready for bed.
I’ll keep you safe, sweet Nightingale,
I’ll shoo away the doves.
I’ll give you my heart, dearest Nightingale,
I will be your love.
So sing more happily, Nightingale,
Sing to me, my dear.
I was always your lady, Nightingale,
I was always right here.
Copyright © 2014 by Jessica Scott
All rights reserved. This work or any portion thereof
may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever
without the express written permission of Jessica Scott
except for the use of brief quotations in a review.