On a Nightingale
A Translation of De Luscinia, by Alcuin
Lost nightingale! what hand tore you from me,
moved by a jealous impulse at my gain?
Your healing music soothed my soulful pain;
Your sweet, sad song, my heart’s own poetry,
is vanished now. May your winged neighbors be
gathered at once to mourn a crime so vain!
Let them raise with me a Pierian strain,
lament those lost notes of glad variety,
flung strangely from a throat so thin and gray.
Your mouth was filled with your Creator’s praise,
and hateful darkness could not make you stay
from song, fair gem of heaven’s own woven rays.
No wonder burning seraphs fill their days
with laud: you did as much in your own way.
Quae te dextra mihi rapuit, luscinia, ruscis,
illa meae fuerat invida laetitiae.
Tu mea dulcisonis implesti pectora musis,
atque animum moestum carmine mellifluo.
Qua propter veniant volucrum simul undique coetus
carmine te mecum plangere Pierio.
Spreta colore tamen fueras non spreta canendo.
Lata sub angusto gutture vox sonuit,
dulce melos iterans vario modulamine Musae,
atque creatorem semper in ore canens.
Noctibus in furvis nusquam cessavit ab odis,
vox veneranda sacris, o decus atque decor.
Quid mirum, cherubim, seraphim si voce tonantem
perpetua laudent, dum tua sic potuit?