Some use a different title for this poem written by John Milton. Some refer to this poem as O Nightingale. That’s because Milton used the title Sonnet 1 for this poem. In this poem, Milton shows us the contrast between two birds.
The Nightingale and the cuckoo are the birds that are metaphors for love and hate. Eventually, love will conquer over hate. Milton shows us that there is such a thing as true love. It may not be in reach at the moment when you want it the most. It can be, once you are opening your heart to the right person.
The nightingale is well-known for its beautiful singing. Still, there seems to be something sad about this lonely bird that sings – mostly on Summer nights. The cuckoo is the opposite of this bird and it represents hate. Milton even introduces this bird as “The rude bird of hate.” The sounds of this bird are the opposite of that of a nightingale. According to the poet, this bird represents anything but the true love that the nightingale searches for. Unfortunately, this nightingale sings too late for the poet.
To the Nightingale
Milton wasn’t the only one to write about the nightingale. So did Mary Darby Robinson in her poem Ode to the nightingale.
Your favourite bird
Question for you: What is your favourite bird and why?