To the Nightingale

All hail, thou messenger of spring and love,
Instinct with music, and with blissful thought!
What spell unknown from genial southern grove,
From purer gales, and skies without a blot,
Does round thy charmed beak and pinions move,
Mellowing our rude air to receive thy note?
Art thou indeed a thing of soulless frame?
And heaves that bosom with no minstrel flame?

O, no! for sure those thrilling tones had mind,
That trembled from beneath the evening star,
In whose dear light thou sittest as enshrined
While woods and waves do rustle from afar,
And to thy varied descant the low wind
Makes fitful answer, which no sound may mar
Of beast or meaner bird: they silent all
Are held by that sweet chain in willing thrall.

Thy song has language: to each heart of man
It sounds in unison: but who are they
Who best thy mystic melodies may scan?
The Poet musing at the close of day:
He who with heavy heart and visage wan
In thought of vanish'd bliss does sadly stray:
The lover when his true love is not by,
And the rapt ear of Heaven-taught infancy.

Full greedily the joyous infant drinks
Those wildly quivering notes thou fling'st on high;
Shuddering in grief's dear joy, the mourner shrinks
From what he loves, thy sadder melody;
And in thy long low strain the lover thinks
He hears the echo of his lonely sigh:
And be thy song of joyaunce or of woe,
Still o'er his inmost heart the Poet feels it flow.
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