Menella Bute Smedley

The Singing Lesson

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A nightingale made a mistake!
She sang a few notes out of tune,
Her heart was ready to break,
And she hid from the moon!
She wrung her claws, poor thing,
But was far too proud to speak,
So tuck'd her head under her wing,
And pretended to be asleep!

A lark, arm-in-arm with a thrush,
Came sauntering up to the place;
The nightingale felt herself blush,
Though feathers hid her face;
She knew they had heard her song,
She felt them snigger and sneer,
She thought that this life was too long,
And wish'd she could skip a year!
“O nightingale!” coo'd a dove;
“O nightingale! what's the use?
You bird of beauty and love,
Why behave like a goose?
Don't skulk away from our sight
Like common contemptible fowl;
You bird of joy and delight,
Why behave like an owl?

Only think of all you have done,
Only think of all you can do;
A false note is really fun
From such a bird as you!
Lift up your proud little crest,
Open your musical beak;
Other birds have to do their best,
You need only speak.”
The nightingale shyly took
Her head from under her wing,
And giving the dove a look,
Straightway began to sing.
There was never a bird could pass,
The night was divinely calm,
And the people stood on the grass
To hear that wonderful psalm!

The nightingale did not care,
She only sang to the skies;
Her song ascended there,
And there she fix'd her eyes.
The people that stood below
She knew but little about;
And this story's a moral, I know,
If you'll try to find it out!

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Menella Bute Smedley