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Poem by Anne Finch, Countess of Winchilsea


To the Nightingale


Exert thy voice, sweet harbinger of spring!
    This moment is thy time to sing,
    This moment I attend to praise,
And set my numbers to they lays.
    Free as thine shall be my song;
    As they music, short, or long.
Poets, wild as thee, were born,
    Pleasing best when unconfined,
    When to please is least designed,
Soothing but their cares to rest;
    Cares do still their thoughts molest,
    And still th' unhappy poet's breast,
Like thine, when best he sings, is placed against a thorn.
She begins, Let all be still!
    Muse, they promise now fulfill!
Sweet, oh! sweet, still sweeter yet
Can thy words such accents fit,
Canst thou syllables refine,
Melt a sense that shall retain
Still some spirit of the brain,
Till with sounds like these it join.
    'Twill not be! then change thy note;
    Let division shake thy throat.
Hark! Division now she tries;
Yet as far the Muse outflies.
    Cease then, prithee, cease thy tune;
    Trifler, wilt thou sing till *June*?
Till thy business all lies waste,
And the time of building's past!
    Thus we poets that have speech,
Unlike what they forests teach,
    If a fluent vein be shown
    That's transcendant to our own,
Criticize, reform, or preach,
Or censure what we cannot reach.



Anne Finch, Countess of Winchilsea


Anne Finch, Countess of Winchilsea's other poems:
  1. The Tree
  2. A Letter to Daphnis
  3. The Introduction
  4. Adam Posed
  5. On Myself


Poems of the other poets with the same name:

  • John Milton To the Nightingale ("O Nightingale! that on yon bloomy spray")
  • Samuel Coleridge To the Nightingale ("Sister of love-lorn Poets, Philomel!")
  • James Thomson To the Nightingale ("O nightingale, best poet of the grove")
  • Anne Hunter To the Nightingale ("WHY from these shades, sweet bird of eve")

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