Study Guide

The Nightingale Transformation

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And one low piping sound more sweet than all—
Stirring the air with such an harmony
That should you close your eyes, you might almost
Forget it was not day! (61-64)

The song of the nightingale is so harmonious that it can make the speaker forget that it's nighttime. We can assume, though, that this would only work if the listener isn't projecting their own emotions onto the song. And that, says the speaker, is difficult. Can true transformation only occur when we work towards it?

With one sensation, and those wakeful birds
Have all burst forth in choral minstrelsy,
As if some sudden gale had swept at once
A hundred airy harps! And she hath watched
Many a nightingale perch giddily
On blossomy twig still swinging from the breeze, (79-84)

When the moon comes out from behind the clouds, the birds burst into song. It's so sudden that the speaker describes it as a "hundred airy harps." The grove goes from silent to a symphony, and the only person around to notice the transformation is the maiden.

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