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

Emma Lazarus (1849–1887)

Critic and Poet

NO man had ever heard a nightingale,

When once a keen-eyed naturalist was stirred

To study and define—what is a bird;

To classify by rote and book, nor fail

To mark its structure, and to note the scale

Whereon its song might possibly be heard.

Thus far, no farther;—so he spake the word.

When of a sudden,—hark, the nightingale!

Oh, deeper, higher than he could divine,

That all-unearthly, untaught strain! He saw

The plain brown warbler, unabashed. “Not mine”

(He cried) “the error of this fatal flaw.

No bird is this,—it soars beyond my line:

Were it a bird, ’twould answer to my law.”