Mary Darby Robinson

(1758 - 1800 / England)

Second Ode To The Nightingale - Poem by Mary Darby Robinson

BLEST be thy song, sweet NIGHTINGALE,
Lorn minstrel of the lonely vale !
Where oft I've heard thy dulcet strain
In mournful melody complain;
When in the POPLAR'S trembling shade,
At Evening's purple hour I've stray'd,
While many a silken folded flow'r
Wept on its couch of Gossamer,
And many a time in pensive mood
Upon the upland mead I've stood,
To mark grey twilight's shadows glide
Along the green hill's velvet side;
To watch the perfum'd hand of morn
Hang pearls upon the silver thorn,
Till rosy day with lustrous eye
In saffron mantle deck'd the sky,
And bound the mountain's brow with fire,
And ting'd with gold the village spire:
While o'er the frosted vale below
The amber tints began to glow:
And oft I seek the daisied plain
To greet the rustic nymph and swain,
When cowslips gay their bells unfold,
And flaunt their leaves of glitt'ring gold,
While from the blushes of the rose
A tide of musky essence flows,
And o'er the odour-breathing flow'rs
The woodlands shed their diamond show'rs,
When from the scented hawthorn bud
The BLACKBIRD sips the lucid flood,
While oft the twitt'ring THRUSH essays
To emulate the LINNET'S lays;
While the poiz'd LARK her carol sings
And BUTTERFLIES expand their wings,
And BEES begin their sultry toils
And load their limbs with luscious spoils,
I stroll along the pathless vale,
And smile, and bless thy soothing tale.

But ah ! when hoary winter chills
The plumy race­and wraps the hills
In snowy vest, I tell my pains
Beside the brook in icy chains
Bound its weedy banks between,
While sad I watch night's pensive queen,
Just emblem of MY weary woes:
For ah ! where'er the virgin goes,
Each flow'ret greets her with a tear
To sympathetic sorrow dear;
And when in black obtrusive clouds
The chilly MOON her pale cheek shrouds,
I mark the twinkling starry train
Exulting glitter in her wane,
And proudly gleam their borrow'd light
To gem the sombre dome of night.
Then o'er the meadows cold and bleak,
The glow-worm's glimm'ring lamp I seek.
Or climb the craggy cliff to gaze
On some bright planet's azure blaze,
And o'er the dizzy height inclin'd
I listen to the passing wind,
That loves my mournful song to seize,
And bears it to the mountain breeze.
Or where the sparry caves among
Dull ECHO sits with aëry tongue,
Or gliding on the ZEPHYR'S wings
From hill to hill her cadence flings,
O, then my melancholy tale
Dies on the bosom of the gale,
While awful stillness reigning round
Blanches my cheek with chilling fear;
Till from the bushy dell profound,
The woodman's song salutes mine ear.

When dark NOVEMBER'S boist'rous breath
Sweeps the blue hill and desart heath,
When naked trees their white tops wave
O'er many a famish'd REDBREAST'S grave,
When many a clay-built cot lays low
Beneath the growing hills of snow,
Soon as the SHEPHERD's silv'ry head
Peeps from his tottering straw-roof'd shed,
To hail the glimm'ring glimpse of day,
With feeble steps he ventures forth
Chill'd by the bleak breath of the North,
And to the forest bends his way,
To gather from the frozen ground
Each branch the night-blast scatter'd round.­
If in some bush o'erspread with snow
He hears thy moaning wail of woe,
A flush of warmth his cheek o'erspreads,
With anxious timid care he treads,
And when his cautious hands infold
Thy little breast benumb'd with cold,
"Come, plaintive fugitive," he cries,
While PITY dims his aged eyes,
"Come to my glowing heart, and share
"My narrow cell, my humble fare,
"Tune thy sweet carol­plume thy wing,
"And quaff with me the limpid spring,
"And peck the crumbs my meals supply,
"And round my rushy pillow fly."

O, MINSTREL SWEET, whose jocund lay
Can make e'en POVERTY look gay,
Who can the poorest swain inspire
And while he fans his scanty fire,
When o'er the plain rough Winter pours
Nocturnal blasts, and whelming show'rs,
Canst thro' his little mansion fling
The rapt'rous melodies of spring.
To THEE with eager gaze I turn,
Blest solace of the aching breast;
Each gaudy, glitt'ring scene I spurn,
And sigh for solitude and rest,
For art thou not, blest warbler, say,
My mind's best balm, my bosom's friend ?
Didst thou not trill thy softest lay,
And with thy woes my sorrows blend ?
YES, darling Songstress ! when of late
I sought thy leafy-fringed bow'r,
The victim of relentless fate,
Fading in life's dark ling'ring hour,
Thou heard'st my plaint, and pour'd thy strain
Thro' the sad mansion of my breast,
And softly, sweetly lull'd to rest
The throbbing anguish of my brain.

AH ! while I tread this vale of woe,
Still may thy downy measures flow,
To wing my solitary hours
With kind, obliterating pow'rs;
And tho' my pensive, patient heart
No wild, extatic bliss shall prove,
Tho' life no raptures shall impart,
No boundless joy, or, madd'ning love,
Sweet NIGHTINGALE, thy lenient strain
Shall mock Despair, AND BLUNT THE SHAFT OF PAIN.


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Read poems about / on: song, winter, snow, sad, spring, poverty, solitude, fire, purple, dark, despair, ode, lonely, silver, sorrow, fate, night, rose, moon, friend



Poem Submitted: Friday, January 3, 2003



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