The Nightingale

Sir Philip Sidney - 1554-1586
The nightingale, as soon as April bringeth 
Unto her rested sense a perfect waking, 
While late bare earth, proud of new clothing, springeth, 
Sings out her woes, a thorn her song-book making, 
And mournfully bewailing, 
Her throat in tunes expresseth 
What grief her breast oppresseth 
For Tereus' force on her chaste will prevailing. 
O Philomela fair, O take some gladness, 
That here is juster cause of plaintful sadness: 
Thine earth now springs, mine fadeth; 
Thy thorn without, my thorn my heart invadeth. 

Alas, she hath no other cause of anguish 
But Tereus’ love, on her by strong hand wroken, 
Wherein she suffering, all her spirits languish; 
Full womanlike complains her will was broken. 
But I, who daily craving, 
Cannot have to content me, 
Have more cause to lament me, 
Since wanting is more woe than too much having. 
O Philomela fair, O take some gladness, 
That here is juster cause of plaintful sadness: 
Thine earth now springs, mine fadeth; 
Thy thorn without, my thorn my heart invadeth.

More by Sir Philip Sidney

The Twenty-Third Psalm

Dominus regit me

The Lord the Lord my shepherd is,
   And so can never I
      Taste misery.
He rests me in green pasture His.
   By waters still and sweet
      He guides my feet.

He me revives, leads me the way
   Which righteousness doth take,
      For His name's sake.
Yea though I should through valleys stray
   Of death's dark shade I will
      No whit fear ill.

For Thou dear Lord Thou me beset'st,
   Thy rod and Thy staff be
      To comfort me.
Before me Thou a table set'st,
   Ev'n when foe's envious eye
      Doth it espy.

With oil Thou dost anoint my head,
   And so my cup dost fill
      That it doth spill.
Thus thus shall all my days be fed,
   This mercy is so sure
      It shall endure,
And long yea long abide I shall,
   There where the Lord of all
      Doth hold His hall.

A Ditty

My true-love hath my heart, and I have his,
By just exchange one to the other given:
I hold his dear, and mine he cannot miss,
There never was a better bargain driven:
   My true-love hath my heart, and I have his.

His heart in me keeps him and me in one,
My heart in him his thoughts and senses guides:
He loves my heart, for once it was his own,
I cherish his because in me it bides:
   My true-love hath my heart, and I have his.

Related Poems

Ode to a Nightingale

1.

My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains  
  My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,  
Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains  
  One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk:  
'Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,
  But being too happy in thine happiness,—  
    That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees,  
          In some melodious plot  
  Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,  
    Singest of summer in full-throated ease.
  
2.

O, for a draught of vintage! that hath been  
  Cool'd a long age in the deep-delved earth,  
Tasting of Flora and the country green,  
  Dance, and Provencal song, and sunburnt mirth!  
O for a beaker full of the warm South,
  Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,  
    With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,  
          And purple-stained mouth;  
  That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,  
    And with thee fade away into the forest dim:
  
3.

Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget  
  What thou among the leaves hast never known,  
The weariness, the fever, and the fret  
  Here, where men sit and hear each other groan;  
Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last gray hairs,
  Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies;  
    Where but to think is to be full of sorrow  
          And leaden-eyed despairs,  
  Where Beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes,  
    Or new Love pine at them beyond to-morrow.
  
4.

Away! away! for I will fly to thee,  
  Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards,  
But on the viewless wings of Poesy,  
  Though the dull brain perplexes and retards:  
Already with thee! tender is the night,
  And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne,  
    Cluster'd around by all her starry Fays;  
          But here there is no light,  
  Save what from heaven is with the breezes blown  
    Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy ways.
  
5.

I cannot see what flowers are at my feet,  
  Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs,  
But, in embalmed darkness, guess each sweet  
  Wherewith the seasonable month endows  
The grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild;
  White hawthorn, and the pastoral eglantine;  
    Fast fading violets cover'd up in leaves;  
          And mid-May's eldest child,  
  The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine,  
    The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves.
  
6.

Darkling I listen; and, for many a time  
  I have been half in love with easeful Death,  
Call'd him soft names in many a mused rhyme,  
  To take into the air my quiet breath;  
Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
  To cease upon the midnight with no pain,  
    While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad  
          In such an ecstasy!  
  Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain—  
    To thy high requiem become a sod.
  
7.

Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird!  
  No hungry generations tread thee down;  
The voice I hear this passing night was heard  
  In ancient days by emperor and clown:  
Perhaps the self-same song that found a path 
  Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,  
    She stood in tears amid the alien corn;  
          The same that oft-times hath  
  Charm'd magic casements, opening on the foam  
    Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.   
  
8.

Forlorn! the very word is like a bell  
  To toil me back from thee to my sole self!  
Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so well  
  As she is fam'd to do, deceiving elf.  
Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades
  Past the near meadows, over the still stream,  
    Up the hill-side; and now 'tis buried deep  
          In the next valley-glades:  
  Was it a vision, or a waking dream?  
    Fled is that music:—Do I wake or sleep?