Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, EXIT NIGHTINGALE, by RICHARD EUGENE BURTON



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EXIT NIGHTINGALE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Ghastly contrast, god's grim joke!
Last Line: Is wiped out in city mud.
Subject(s): Suicide; Labor & Laborers; Royal Court Life; Royalty; Kings; Queens; Riches; Fortunes


GHASTLY contrast, God's grim joke!
Here's a man who, on a morn,
Very weary, hopeless, spoke:
"I am out of work, and scorn,
Want and ugliness are mine."
So this creature, made divine
(So they tell us) simply shot
His weak brains out -- there's your plot!

Nothing in it, say you? Stale?
True, 'tis but a common tale,
But the story gives me pause
For a moment's space, because
This poor breaker of God's laws
Bore the name of -- Nightingale!

Somewhere in the years behind,
When men's names were first assumed --
Tinker Tom or John the Smith,
Handier to travel with --
Somebody was this assigned:
Nightingale . . . Belike there bloomed
On his cheek the badge of health
And he had, instead of wealth,
Music for his gift, could sing,
Play the fiddle, lead the folk
Down the jolly dancing-ring;

Make them thus forget their yoke,
In some village . . . long ago.
Merry lad, who far and wide
Up and down the countryside
Piped before the people so!
Thus, the name bespoke the man.

Latterly there came a change
In this very pretty plan
And a name meant naught at all.
Taylors sat within the Hall,
Kings in hovels -- passing strange!
Time's inexorable jest
Mocked the high and blurred the best.
So with Nightingale, -- he fell
From his pristine grove and -- well,
Found himself in songless hell.

Heigho, how the world is run!
Morn of glory, night of shame,
Worms that crawl from out a bud.
Every day 'twixt sun and sun
Some poor devil's singing name
Is wiped out in city mud.





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