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C.D. Warner, et al., comp. The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

The Nightingale

By John Keble (1792–1866)

LESSONS sweet of spring returning,

Welcome to the thoughtful heart!

May I call ye sense of learning,

Instinct pure, or heaven-taught art?

Be your title what it may,

Sweet and lengthening April day,

While with you the soul is free,

Ranging wild o’er hill and lea.

Soft as Memnon’s harp at morning

To the inward ear devout,

Touched by light, with heavenly warning

Your transporting chords ring out.

Every leaf in every nook,

Every wave in every brook,

Chanting with a solemn voice,

Minds us of our better choice.

Needs no show of mountain hoary,

Winding shore or deepening glen,

Where the landscape in its glory

Teaches truth to wandering men:

Give true hearts but earth and sky,

And some flowers to bloom and die,—

Homely scenes and simple views

Lowly thoughts may best infuse.

See the soft green willow springing

Where the waters gently pass,

Every way her free arms flinging

O’er the moss and reedy grass.

Long ere winter blasts are fled,

See her tipped with vernal red,

And her kindly flower displayed

Ere her leaf can cast a shade.

Though the rudest hand assail her,

Patiently she droops awhile,

But when showers and breezes hail her,

Wears again her willing smile.

Thus I learn contentment’s power

From the slighted willow bower,

Ready to give thanks and live

On the least that Heaven may give.

If, the quiet brooklet leaving,

Up the stony vale I wind,

Haply half in fancy grieving

For the shades I leave behind,

By the dusty wayside drear,

Nightingales with joyous cheer

Sing, my sadness to reprove,

Gladlier than in cultured grove.

Where the thickest boughs are twining

Of the greenest, darkest tree,

There they plunge, the light declining;

All may hear, but none may see.

Fearless of the passing hoof,

Hardly will they fleet aloof;

So they live in modest ways,

Trust entire, and ceaseless praise.