1827
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sonnet. To the Nightingale.

Poems on Various Subjects, by John Taylor, Esq. 2 Vols.

John Taylor Esq.


Shakespeare and Milton, Chaucer and Spenser disagree over why the Nightingale sings. John Taylor's sonnet is part of a long series concerned with birds and birdsong. Taylor was seventy years old when these volumes of his collected verse appeared. While he was still composing, these lines may have been written some decades earlier.

Gentleman's Magazine: "The worthy and good-tempered author of these Volumes is generally known in literary and theatrical circles, as any individual whatever, and as generally respected. It was therefore with sincere regret that we saw him compelled, by adverse circumstances, through the treachery of a seeming friend, to quit the post he had so long occupied, as editor and proprietor of a daily influential Evening Newspaper. A respectable number of Subscribers have come forward to his assistance; and we trust that his other numerous friends will rally round him, to cheer the evening of his life, who has for so many years contributed to the gratification and innocent amusement of others.... The Sonnets and Epistles are extremely numerous; and are generally addressed to the Poet's friends. Many specimens have occasionally appeared in our pages" 97 (October 1827) 342-43.



SHAKESPEARE and MILTON, sweetest bird, agree,
That thy night-warblings breathe a mournful strain,
Of adverse fortune seeming to complain;
CHAUCER and SPENSER hail thy vernal glee;
Can such enlighten'd minds at variance be!
Why should thy dulcet tones arise from pain?
Or what of mirth from darkness can'st thou gain?
No — all below own Nature's wise decree—
She bids each vital being seek a mate;
Hence to her impulse must thy breast incline,
A partner calling to thy shady state,
Joyful to meet thee at the wonted sign.
Oh! may it be, sweet bird, thy happy fate,
To gain a mate whose love will equal thine.

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