To The Nightingale.

What time thy heavenly voice preludes1
Unto the fair and silent night,2
Wing’d minstrel of my solitudes,3
Unknown to thee I trace its flight.4
Thou knowest not that one remains5
Beneath the trees hour after hour,6
Whose ear drinks in thy wondrous strains,7
Intoxicated by their power ;8
Nor that the while a breath of air9
Escapes but from my lips with grief ;10
And that my foot avoids with care11
The rustling of a single leaf ;12
Thou deemest not that one, whose art13
Is like thine own, but known to day,14
Repeats and envies in his heart15
Thy forest-born nocturnal lay !16
If but the star of night reclines17
Upon the hills thy song to hear,18
Amid the branches of the pines19
Thou couchest from the ray in fear.20
Or if the rivulet, which chides21
The stone that in its way doth come,22
Should speak from ’neath its mossy sides,23
The sound affrights and strikes thee dumb !24
Thy voice, so touching and sublime,25
Is far too pure for this gross earth :26
Surely we well may deem the chime27
An instinct which with God has birth !28
Thy warblings and thy murmurs sweet29
Into melodious union bring30
Ali fair sounds that in nature meet,31
Or float from heaven on wandering wing.32
Thy voice, though thou may’st know it not,33
Is but the voice of the blue sky34
Of forest glade, and sounding grot,35
And vale where sleeping shadows lie ;36
It blends the tones which it receives37
From prattlings of the summer rills,38
From trembling rustlings of the leaves,39
From echoes dying on the hills ;40
From waters filtering drop by drop41
Down naked crag to basin cool,42
And sounding ever, without stop,43
While wrinkling all the rock-arch’d pool ;44
From the rich breeze-born plaints that flow45
From out the branchy night of trees ;46
From whispering reeds, and waves that go47
To die upon the shores of seas ;48
Of these sweet voices, which contain49
The instinct that instructeth thee,50
God made, oh nightingale, the strain51
Thou givest unto night and me !52
Ah ! these so soft nocturnal scenes,53
These pious mysteries of the eve,54
And these fair flowers, of which each leans55
Above its urn, and seems to grieve ;56
These leaves on which the dew-tears lie,57
These freshest breathings of the trees58
All things, oh Nature, loudly cry,59
A voice must be for sweets like these !”60
And that mysterious voice—that sound,61
Which angels listen to with me,62
That sigh of pious night—is found63
In thee, melodious bird, in thee !64