A daily poem #332 – February 5, 2011
by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
The Poet and the Bird
Said a people to a poet – “Go out from among us straightway!
While we are thinking earthly things, thou singest of divine.
There’s a little fair brown nightingale, who, sitting in the gateways
Makes fitter music to our ears than any song of thine!”
The poet went out weeping-the nightingale ceased chanting;
“Now, wherefore, O thou nightingale, is all thy sweetness done?”
I cannot sing my earthly things, the heavenly poet wanting,
Whose highest harmony includes the lowest under sun.”
The poet went out weeping, – and died abroad, bereft there –
The bird flew to his grave and died, amid a thousand wails: –
And, when I last came by the place, I swear the music left there
Was only of the poet’s song, and not the nightingale’s.