BETA

A woman is sitting outside on a wooden bench and is reading a book. The bench is placed against the wall of a building. There is an open window on the woman’s right side. Full-page illustration contained within a double-ruled rectangular border.

The Secret of the
Nightingale.

Facsimile of Roden Noel’s signature. 1/64 page.
Decorated initial letter “T” spans down the length of 5 lines. A branch with flowers extends behind and above the “T.” 1/12 page.
The ground I walked on felt like air,1
Airs buoyant with the year’s young mirth ;2
Far, filmy, undulating fair,3
The down lay, a long wave of earth ;4
And a still green foam of woods rose high5
Over the hill-line into the sky.6
In meadowy pasture browse the kine,7
Thin wheat-blades colour a brown plough-line.8
Fresh rapture of the year’s young joy9
Was in the unfolded luminous leaf,10
And birds that shower as they toy11
Melodious rain that knows not grief,12
A song-maze where my heart in bliss13
Lay folded, like a chrysalis.14
They allured my feet far into the wood,15
Down a winding glade with leaflets walled,16
With an odorous dewy dark imbued ;17
Rose, and maple, and hazel called18
Me into the shadowy solitude ;19
Wild blue germander eyes enthralled,20
Made me free of the balmy bowers,21
Where a wonderful garden-party of flowers,22
Laughing sisterhood under the trees,23
Dancing merrily, played with the bees ;24
Anemone, starwort, bands in white,25
Like girls for a first communion dight,26
And pale yellow primrose ere her flight,27
Ushered me onward wondering28
To a scene more fair than the court of a king.29
Ah ! they were very fair themselves,30
Sweet maids of honour, woodland elves !31
Frail flowers that arrive with the cuckoo,32
Pale lilac, hyacinth purple of hue,33
And the little pink geranium,34
All smiled and nodded to see me come :35
All gave me welcome.  “ No noise,” they said,36
For we will show you the bridal bed,37
Where Philomel, our queen, was wed ;38
Hush ! move with a tender, reverent foot,39
Like a shy light over bole and root ; ”40
And they blew in the delicate air for flute.41
Into the heart of the verdure stole42
My feet, and a music enwound my soul ;43
Zephyr flew over a cool bare brow44
I am near, very near to the secret now !45
For the rose-covers, all alive with song,46
Flash with it, plain now low and long ;47
Sprinkle a holy water of notes ;48
On clear air melody leans and floats ;49
The blithe-winged minstrel merrily moves,50
Dim bushes burn with mystical loves !51
Lo ! I arrive ! immersed in green,52
Where the wood divides, though barely seen,53
A nest in one of the blue leaf-rifts !54
There over the border a bird uplifts55
Her downy head, billed, luminous-eyed ;56
Behold the chosen one, the bride !57
And the singer, he singeth by her side.58
Leap, heart ! be aflame with them ! loud, not dumb,59
Give a voice to their epithalamium !60
Whose raptures wax not pale nor dim61
Beside the fires of seraphim.62
These are glorious, glowing stairs,63
In gradual ascent to theirs ;64
With human loves acclaim and hail65
The holy lore of the nightingale !66