Ode to a Nightingale lyrics

by

Marianne Faithfull


My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains my sense
As though of hemlock I had drunk
Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains
One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk:

'Tis not through envy of thy happy lot
But being too happy in thy happiness
That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees
In some melodious plot
Of beechen green, and shadows numberless
Singest of summer in full-throated ease

O for a draught of vintage, that hath been
Cooled a long age in the deep-delved earth
Tasting of Flora and the country green
Dance, and Provencal song, and sun-burnt mirth

O for a beaker full of the warm South
Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene
With beaded bubbles winking at the brim
And purple-stained mouth
That I might drink, and leave the world unseen
And with thee fade away into the forest dim

Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget
What thou among the leaves hast never known
The weariness, the fever and the fret
Here, where men sit and hear each other groan

Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last gray hairs
Where youth grows pale and spectre-thin, and dies
Where but to think is to be full of sorrow
And leaden-eyed despairs
Where beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes
Or new love pine at them beyond tomorrow

Away, away, I will fly to thee
Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards
But on the viewless wings of Poesy
Though the dull brain perplexes and retards
Already with thee tender is the night
And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne
Clustered around by all her starry fays

But here there is no light
Save what from heaven is with the breezes blown
Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy ways

I cannot see what flowers are at my feet
Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs
But in embalmed darkness, guess each sweet
Wherewith the seasonable month endows

The grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild
White hawthorn and the pastoral eglantine
Fast-fading violets covered up in leaves
And mid-May's eldest child
The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine
The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves

Darkling I listen, and for many a time
I have been half in love with easeful Death
Called him soft names in many a mused rhyme
To take into the air my quiet breath

Now more than ever it seems rich to die
To cease upon the midnight with no pain
While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad
In such an ecstasy!

Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain
To thy high requiem become a sod

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

Perhaps the self-same song that found a path
Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home
She stood in tears amid the alien corn
The same that oft-times hath charmed the magic casements
Opening on the foam of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn

Forlorn! the very word is like a bell
To toll me back from thee to my sole self
Adieu, the fancy cannot cheat so well
As she is famed to do, deceiving elf

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?
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