Panier of Plenty

Le Rossignol

‘A poet is a nightingale who sits in darkness
and sings to cheer its own solitude with sweet sounds;
his auditors are as men entranced by the melody
of an unseen musician,
who feel that they are moved and softened,
yet know not whence or why.’

Shelley, ‘A Defense of Poetry’.

Night falls

A nightingale has been singing each night in the forest, and I leave
the window open so I can fall asleep to his song (only the male sings,
although the name means ‘night songstress’). I wished for one; a few
years ago, whilst living on a forested mountain in Australia, I wrote
a poem, yet had no such nightly visitor.

Nature’s Call
5th May 2009. Southern Highlands, NSW, Australia.

Hark now, listen, a Nightingale’s song,
From glade to woodland, for now there’s a throng,
Can you hear the laughter in the trees,
The flutter of gentle butterfly wings?

With each passing footstep,
There echoes a beat,
For every path trodden,
Man has left a feat –

Though Nature calls him to his home,
He tarries not,
For worries load,
They’re on his back, the truth be told.

Lost to him the sounds at dawn,
Barely perceptible, the choir of morn,
His concerns for work, and furrowed brow,
Consume all else, for this is how –

Progress marches those in line to their end,
Unwitting victims of a life we must spend,
Not hunting and gathering,
But tending to our heads,
The bills we pay, the price we place
On each of our deeds.

Who could have thought –
Technology’s so smart,
It enables us to keep the pace,
But what about our heart?

Forgotten it lies dormant,
Behind a lock and key,
Not accessed for enjoyment,
Work a priority.

Set aside our pleasure time,
Our lives embellished with fine wine,
Drowning sorrows,
Dreaming of the morrows,
Where rescue is near,
What fuels our fears?

Necessity, we might say –
We have to eat, what choice is there but pay?
And pay we do, the price of freedom,
Captive in our waking state,
Robbed of dreams as day abates,
Night filled with demons, taunting us,
Can’t we see – life’s treacherous,
Trip up now and we shall fall,
Voices, urging, drive us on,
Not truth, nor love, but bittersweet,
A life with deadlines and goals to meet.

Hark now, listen, can you hear a song,
If we stop ourselves, it doesn’t take long,
A pause, a silence, and we shall hear,
A melody that floats on air.

The ring around us calls us home,
For birdsong wakes us to what we know,
That there’s more to life than slavery,
For look at Nature, in harmony –

Contributing, the web of life,
Holding balance through grief and strife,
Sustaining all we need to thrive,
After all, how do we think we survive?

Providing all we need to live,
The oxygen, the water – a gift,
Blessings there, already ours,
Yet concrete swarms – and it devours.

Bastion of green you stand,
Proud and strong, from ancient land,
Wrapping us in arms of gold,
The sun enlivens every soul –

Look up, look up – to greet the sky,
See how high our feathered friends soar,
Not trapped, not caged, but free to explore,
Expand your mind and venture out,
For all around us joy abounds,
A tiny world upon the ground.

There’s more to life than meets our eyes,
So much to fathom, once we know its disguise,
Commanding illusion,
We keep it at bay,
Communing with Nature,
We welcome each day.

I have since discovered the songs and poetry of many others who have
been inspired by his enchanting voice – comparing the nightingale’s
melodic chant to both ‘creative and seemingly spontaneous song’ and
lament – Shakespeare, Keats, Wordsworth, Chaucer, Chrétien de Troyes,
T.S. Eliot, Virgil and Homer among them. I have long treasured
‘The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye’ by A.S. Byatt, yet was surprised
to write about a bird I had never heard sing, without so much as a
creative thought, or any prior knowledge of his literary significance.

In France he is associated with love, and immortalised in the popular
chanson by Luis Mariano.


Il était une fois une fille d’un roi
Au cœur plein de tristesse
Enfermée nuit et jour
Au sommet d’une tour
Elle pleurait toujours
Un jour, prenant son vol
Un gentil rossignol
Vint dire à la princesse
“Je t’apporte l’espoir”
C’est pour le revoir,
Qu’elle chante le soir :

Rossignol, rossignol de mes amours
Quand ton chant s’élèvera
Mon chagrin s’envolera
Et l’amour viendra peut-être
Ce soir, sous ma fenêtre
Reviens gentil rossignol

Le rossignol revint se poser
Sur la main de sa belle princesse
Elle le caressa puis elle l’embrassa
Et il se transforma
En un prince charmant
Qui devint le galant
De sa jolie maîtresse
Et c’est pourquoi depuis
Les filles du pays
Chantent toutes les nuits :

Rossignol, rossignol de mes amours
Dès que minuit sonnera,
Quand la lune brillera
Viens chanter sous ma fenêtre

Rossignol, rossignol de mes amours
Quand ton chant s’élèvera
Mon chagrin s’envolera
Et l’amour viendra peut-être
Ce soir, sous ma fenêtre
Reviens gentil rossignol.

This entry was published on May 28, 2012 at 10:44 pm. It’s filed under Environment, Forest, France, History, La Vie Quotidienne, Landscape, Languedoc Roussillon, Life, Lifestyle, Mediterranean, Nature, Philosophy, Photography, Poetry, Pyrénées, Seasons, Travel, Writing and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

One thought on “Le Rossignol

  1. Pingback: Subiectul POVESTE/Histoire | EXPRESIA IDEII (Clubul Marianei Bendou)

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