Nightingales are small passerine birds formerly classed as belonging to the thrush family, but now more generally considered to be Old World flycatchers. They are named from their habit of singing both at night and during the day.
- Hark! ah, the nightingale—
Hark from that moonlit cedar what a burst!
What triumph! hark!—what pain!
* * * * * *
How thick the bursts come crowding through the leaves!
- Matthew Arnold, Philomela (1853), line 32.
- For as nightingales do upon glow-worms feed,
So poets live upon the living light.
- Philip James Bailey, Festus (1813), scene Home.
- The nightingale, if she should sing by day,
When every goose is cackling, would be thought
No better a musician than the wren.
How many things by season season'd are
To their right praise, and true perfection!
- Wilt thou be gone? it is not yet near day:
It was the nightingale, and not the lark,
That pierc'd the fearful hollow of thine ear;
Nightly she sings on yon pomegranate tree:
Believe me, love, it was the nightingale.
- Lend me your song, ye Nightingales! O, pour
The mazy-running soul of melody
Into my varied verse.
- James Thomson, The Seasons, Spring (1728), line 574.
Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations
- Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 557-59.
- I have heard the nightingale herself.
- King Agesilaus when asked to listen to a man imitate the nightingale. Plutarch, Life of Agesilaus.
- As it fell upon a day
In the merry month of May,
Sitting in a pleasant shade
Which a grove of myrtles made.
- Richard Barnfield, Address to the Nightingale.
- It is the hour when from the boughs
The nightingale's high note is heard;
It is the hour when lovers' vows
Seem sweet in every whisper'd word.
- Lord Byron, Parisina, Stanza 1.
- "Most musical, most melancholy" bird!
A melancholy bird! Oh! idle thought!
In nature there is nothing melancholy.
- Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Nightingale, line 13.
- 'Tis the merry nightingale
That crowds, and hurries, and precipitates
With fast thick warble his delicious notes,
As he were fearful that an April night
Would be too short for him to utter forth
His love-chant, and disburthen his full soul
Of all its music!
- Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Nightingale, line 43.
- Sweet bird, that sing'st away the early hours,
Of winter's past or coming void of care,
Well pleaséd with delights which present are,
Fair seasons, budding sprays, sweet-smelling flowers.
- William Drummond of Hawthornden, Sonnet, To a Nightingale.
- Like a wedding-song all-melting
Sings the nightingale, the dear one.
- Heinrich Heine, Book of Songs, Donna Clara.
- The nightingale appear'd the first,
And as her melody she sang,
The apple into blossom burst,
To life the grass and violets sprang.
- Heinrich Heine, Book of Songs, New Spring, No. 9.
- Where the nightingale doth sing
Not a senseless, tranced thing,
But divine melodious truth.
- John Keats, Ode, Bards of Passion and of Mirth.
- Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades
Past the near meadows, over the still stream,
Up the hill-side; and now 'tis buried deep
In the next valley-glades:
Was it a vision, or a waking dream?
Fled is that music:—do I wake or sleep?
- John Keats, To a Nightingale.
- Thou wast not born for death, immortal bird!
No hungry generations tread thee down;
The voice I hear this passing night was heard
In ancient days by emperor and clown.
- John Keats, To a Nightingale.
- 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.
- John Keble, The Nightingale.
- To the red rising moon, and loud and deep
The nightingale is singing from the steep.
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Keats.
- What bird so sings, yet does so wail?
O, 'tis the ravish'd nightingale—
Jug, jug, jug, jug—tereu—she cries,
And still her woes at midnight rise.
- John Lyly, The Songs of Birds.
- Sweet bird that shunn'st the noise of folly,
Most musical, most melancholy!
Thee, chauntress, oft, the woods among,
I woo, to hear thy even-song.
- John Milton, Il Penseroso (1631), line 61.
- O nightingale, that on yon bloomy spray
Warblest at eve, when all the woods are still;
Thou with fresh hope the lover's heart dost fill
While the jolly hours lead on propitious May.
- John Milton, Sonnet, To the Nightingale.
- Thy liquid notes that close the eye of day
First heard before the shallow cuckoo's bill,
Portend success in love.
- John Milton, Sonnet. To the Nightingale.
- I said to the Nightingale:
"Hail, all hail!
Pierce with thy trill the dark,
Like a glittering music-spark,
When the earth grows pale and dumb."
- Dinah Craik, A Rhyme About Birds.
- Yon nightingale, whose strain so sweetly flows,
Mourning her ravish'd young or much-loved mate,
A soothing charm o'er all the valleys throws
And skies, with notes well tuned to her sad state.
- Petrarch, To Laura in Death, Sonnet XLIII.
- The sunrise wakes the lark to sing,
The moonrise wakes the nightingale.
Come, darkness, moonrise, everything
That is so silent, sweet, and pale:
Come, so ye wake the nightingale.
- Christina G. Rossetti, Bird Raptures.
- Hark! that's the nightingale,
Telling the self-same tale
Her song told when this ancient earth was young:
So echoes answered when her song was sung
In the first wooded vale.
- Christina G. Rossetti, Twilight Calm, Stanza 7.
- The angel of spring, the mellow-throated nightingale.
- Sappho, Fragment 39.
- O Nightingale,
Cease from thy enamoured tale.
- Percy Bysshe Shelley, Scenes from "Magico Prodigioso", Scene 3.
- One nightingale in an interfluous wood
Satiate the hungry dark with melody.
- Percy Bysshe Shelley, Woodman and the Nightingale.
- The nightingale as soon as April bringeth
Unto her rested sense a perfect waking,
While late bare earth, proud of new clothing, springeth,
Sings out her woes, a thorn her song-book making.
And mournfully bewailing,
Her throat in tunes expresseth
What grief her breast oppresseth.
- Sir Philip Sidney, O Philomela Fair.
- Where beneath the ivy shade,
In the dew-besprinkled glade,
Many a love-lorn nightingale,
Warbles sweet her plaintive tale.
- Sophocles, Œdipus Coloneus. Translation by Thomas Francklin.
- The rose looks out in the valley,
And thither will I go,
To the rosy vale, where the nightingale
Sings his song of woe.
- Gil Vicente, The Nightingale. Bowring's translation.
- —Under the linden,
On the meadow,
Where our bed arranged was,
There now you may find e'en
In the shadow
Broken flowers and crushed grass.
—Near the woods, down in the vale,
Sweetly sang the nightingale.
- Walter von der Vogelweide, translation in The Minnesinger of Germany, Under the Linden.
- Last night the nightingale woke me,
Last night, when all was still.
It sang in the golden moonlight,
From out the woodland hill.
- Christian Winther, Sehnsucht. Translation used by Marzials in his song, Last Night.