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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 and the Swallow

By Babrius (c. Second Century A.D.)

Translation of James Davies

FAR from men’s fields the swallow forth had flown,

When she espied amid the woodlands lone

The nightingale, sweet songstress. Her lament

Was Itys to his doom untimely sent.

Each knew the other through the mournful strain,

Flew to embrace, and in sweet talk remain.

Then said the swallow, “Dearest, liv’st thou still?

Ne’er have I seen thee, since thy Thracian ill.

Some cruel fate hath ever come between;

Our virgin lives till now apart have been.

Come to the fields; revisit homes of men;

Come dwell with me, a comrade dear, again,

Where thou shalt charm the swains, no savage brood:

Dwell near men’s haunts, and quit the open wood:

One roof, one chamber, sure, can house the two,

Or dost prefer the nightly frozen dew,

And day-god’s heat? a wild-wood life and drear?

Come, clever songstress, to the light more near.”

To whom the sweet-voiced nightingale replied:—

“Still on these lonesome ridges let me bide;

Nor seek to part me from the mountain glen:—

I shun, since Athens, man, and haunts of men;

To mix with them, their dwelling-place to view,

Stirs up old grief, and opens woes anew.”

SOME consolation for an evil lot

Lies in wise words, in song, in crowds forgot.

But sore the pang, when, where you once were great,

Again men see you, housed in mean estate.