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.

by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

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