The nightingale, noted for its sweet singing but undistinguished looks, has a long relationship with poetry. This book explores this through some of the best known and loved poets in the English language. Taking their inspiration from classical mythology they often address the nightingale by its Greek name ‘Philomela’. Sir Philip Sidney calls the nightingale ‘Philomela fair’ and Shakespeare speaks of her ‘mournful hymns’. The nightingale’s song is linked with human creativity and expression; in the words of Shelley: ‘A Poet is a nightingale who sits in darkness, and sings to cheer its own solitude with sweet sounds.’ In Keats’ celebrated Ode to a Nightingale the song of the nightingale opens a door for the poet to meditate on his sorrow following the death of his beloved brother, Tom. This volume also features the works of John Milton, John Clare and Christina Rossetti.
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