George Darley

The Nightingale’s Song

The night wind had sung the wild flow'rs to their slumbers
And rock'd their green cradles all over the lea,
Whilst they wept, in their sleep, to the pitiful numbers
That came from the Nightingale-tree.

The Nightingale told such a tale of disaster
That it well might have pass'd for a dream with the flow'rs,
And still as she sung, they wept faster and faster
Tears—not drop by drop—but in show'rs.

For she told—what she still loved to tell—tho' the story
Was painfully sad—e'en too sad to be sweet;
But the bird hath in sadness a sorrowful glory,
A joy in the depth of regret.

'Twas a tale of fierce cruelty, red desperation,
That stain'd the dark forest she sung in before,
She had witness'd the deed in her green habitation—
Her green habitation no more!

'Twas of shrieks, and vain struggles, and fainting endeavour,
And cries for sweet mercy, and passion, and pray'r;
'Twas of maidenly bosom-snow sullied for ever
With blood that had sullied it there.

She had fled far away from so guilty a dwelling
To these lonelier, lovelier, shadier bowers,
And the tale that she trembles so sweetly in telling.
She tells every night to the flowers.

If the matin-lark sung it, whilst cheering the bright sun,
The skies had wept down the gay warbler to earth;
Then what must it be, when 'twas told to the night-sun.
In notes so far distant from mirth?

And so oft the sad chronicler chanted her ditty,
The trees 'gan to sigh, and the rushes to wail,
And the flowerets to murmur a chorus of pity
To shew they were moved at the tale.

With weeping the moon became blind, and the duty
Of lighting the earth, was forgot in the spheres.
When the ocean-born sun rose, indeed in his beauty,— 
But rose in the beauty of tears! 

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