The Poet And The Bird

A poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

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.

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