Caudwell, Christopher. Collected Poems 1925-1936. Manchester: Carcanet Press, 1986: 69.
1High on a bough beneath the moonlight pale
2That over-rated bird the nightingale
3Sang and sang on. I thought my heart would break
4At first, to feel again that forlorn ache
5Across the waste of history – “Wine, Red Wine!”
6Fitzgerald’s Nightingale, with voice divine,
7Called out – “to stain my rose-love’s pale cheeks red!”
8And Keats arose, among the wintry dead,
9And testifies, his sunken eyes ashine –
10The song; dusk; dream; and oozy eglantine!
11But these are dead and dumb. This is a fowl
12Hatched from an ordinary egg. The owl
13Like generation owneth. The world wags
14And from a pure tropism the small bird brags,
15His vocal cords to something in the air
16Reacting, never of the spring aware,
17While still more passive, dumb and deaf and blind
18Keats and Fitzgerald slumber, clay-confined;
19Close-hugged by greedy earth, whose barren vales
20Nurse for one Keats a billion nightingales.
Point of Departure (poems 1928-1936)
RPO poem Editors
Ian Lancashire, assisted by Ana Berdinskikh