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O Nightingale that on yon bloomy Spray by John Milton


"O Nightingale that on yon bloomy Spray" is a poem by Milton, also known as "Sonnet I", that is a meditation and contrast of the nightingale and cuckoo and their metaphors. Milton states that the nightingale is the "bird of song" who brings good fortune and success in love. The cuckoo is the "rude Bird of Hate" which is associated with jealousy and cuckoldry.

This is a fourteen line poem. It contains the rhyme scheme ABBAABBA-CDCDCD, which is a typical Italian sonnet style. It is written in iambic-pentameter.


O Nightingale that on yon bloomy Spray

O Nightingale that on yon bloomy Spray,
Warbl'st at eve, when all the Woods are still
Thou with fresh hope the Lover's heart dost fill,
While the jolly hours lead on propitious May,
Thy liquid notes that close the eye of Day,
First heard before the shallow Cuckoo's bill
Portend success in love; O if Jove's will
Have linkt that amorous power to thy soft lay,
Now timely sing, ere the rude Bird of Hate
Foretell my hopeless doom in some Grove nigh:
As thou from year to year hath sung too late
For my relief; yet hadst no reason why,
Whether the Muse, or Love call thee his mate,
Both them I serve, and of their train am I.

Next: On Shakespeare, 1630
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Literary Movement
17th Century

Sonnet, Animal

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