The frog and the nightingale

There is a particular Vikram Seth poem, “The Frog and the Nightingale.” It was prescribed as part of the English textbook in school. I mention the poem because it throws up a very valid life experience that of taste and acceptance!

Once upon a time a frog
Croaked away in Bingle Bog
Every night from dusk to dawn
He croaked awn and awn and awn
Other creatures loathed his voice,
But, alas, they had no choice,
And the crass cacophony
Blared out from the sumac tree
At whose foot the frog each night
Minstrelled on till morning night

Many a time when we are out with a group of people, there are many things including random serious and nonsense chatter which do not go down well with people. The one common consolation is all people have different tastes, so some will like, some won’t.

But one night a nightingale
In the moonlight cold and pale
Perched upon the sumac tree
Casting forth her melody
Dumbstruck sat the gaping frog
And the whole admiring bog
Stared towards the sumac, rapt,
And, when she had ended, clapped,
Ducks had swum and herons waded
To her as she serenaded
And a solitary loon
Wept, beneath the summer moon.
Toads and teals and tiddlers, captured
By her voice, cheered on, enraptured:
“Bravo! ” “Too divine! ” “Encore! ”
So the nightingale once more,
Quite unused to such applause,
Sang till dawn without a pause.

We often give ourselves and people we are with, the benefit of doubt. However, sometimes truth can be strange! The jokes may be excellent, the food may be the best, the conversations may be on the mark, the only trouble is the people do not want to accept it that way.

 “You see, I’m the frog who owns this tree
In this bog I’ve long been known
For my splendid baritone
And, of course, I wield my pen
For Bog Trumpet now and then”

“Did you… did you like my song? ”
“Not too bad – but far too long.
The technique was fine of course,
But it lacked a certain force”.
“Oh! ” the nightingale confessed.
Greatly flattered and impressed
That a critic of such note
Had discussed her art and throat:
“I don’t think the song’s divine.
But – oh, well – at least it’s mine

All of this goes away when we fall into the company of like minded people! I use likeminded loosely for well wishers Likeminded needed not be with similar tastes and ditto lifestyle, or the same attitude.. Somebosy who is willing to experiment with say, food, instead of saying I love only the food I make! the other are junk (I’ll think of a better example and post later)

Bottomline is we need to be careful of the company we keep, especially whose advice we take, otherwise like the nightingale took advice from the croaking frog in singing, we may also end up losing ourselves.

Now the frog puffed up with rage.
“Brainless bird – you’re on the stage –
Use your wits and follow fashion.
Puff your lungs out with your passion.”
Trembling, terrified to fail,
Blind with tears, the nightingale
Heard him out in silence, tried,
Puffed up, burst a vein, and died

Blogathon’16 Day 28


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pins & ashes

An Aquarius Woman

8 thoughts on “The frog and the nightingale”

    1. I’m not a vikram Seth fan as such, Vinay.. I’ve read him in bits and pieces ..and this poem of all his works seems to have stuck with me. It could be from Beastly Tales . Will Google to find out.


  1. I haven’t read a poem like this. Broken up. It’s like adding one more layer to the poem. It creates more curiosity, brings back the reader to read more! Wonderful post!

    Congrats on your day 28 btw!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I tend to think the croaking frog and the singing nightingale as images of the same person. It’s when we become a frog that people don’t like us but when we become the nightingale, everybody flocks towards us. It would always be better to be the nightingale but sometimes we just can’t help it and become a frog instead. Our mind the frog might play tricks on us and convince us to take lessons from it. But we can be careful to avoid that!

    Liked by 1 person

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