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To the Nightingale by William Cowper



We may like to believe our consciousness is imperturbable, but even the strongest amongst us feels a winter during spring. We are beaten down and saddened by pain and loneliness (a form of emotional pain).

Poetry often cannot solve one's problems, but it can be a salve. It can make you feel better, wake up your spirit, and build your emotional reservoirs.

But only if you know how to read.

Below is my reading of this poem. I've included the poem by Cowper is below that my recordings. It is my claim that you do NOT need any specialized knowledge, training or experience to work with great poems. To unlock them requires two things: a dictionary and your mind.

Lastly, at the very bottom is my synopsis of the poem. If you need my guidance, read that. Eventually, whether you are a high school drop out or a PhD in literature, you will be able to understand great poetry.

William Cowper

To the Nightingale which the Author Heard Sing on New Year's Day 1792

WHENCE is it, that amaz'd I hear From yonder wither'd spray, This foremost morn of all the year, The melody of May? And why, since thousands would be proud Of such a favour shown, Am I selected from the crowd, To witness it alone? Sing'st thou, sweet Philomel, to me, For that I also long Have practis'd in the groves like thee, Though not like thee in song? Or sing'st thou rather under force Of some divine command, Commission'd to presage a course Of happier days at hand? Thrice welcome then! for many a long And joyless year have I, As thou to-day, put forth my song Beneath a wintry sky. But thee no wintry skies can harm, When only need'st to sing, To make ev'n January charm, And ev'ry season Spring.