THE NIGHTINGALE AND THE ROSE
By O. Wilde
“She said that she would dance with me if I brought her a red rose,” cried the young student, “but there is not a single red rose in all my garden.”
From her nest in the oak-tree the Nightingale heard him, and she looked out through the leaves and wondered.
“Not a single red rose in all my garden!” cried the student, and his beautiful eyes filled with tears. “Happiness depends so much on such little things! I have read all that the wise men have written, I know all the secrets of philosophy, but my life is unhappy because I have no red rose.”
“Here at last is a true lover,” said the Nightingale. “Night after night I have sung about him, though I did not know him; night after night I have told his story to the stars, and now I see him.”
“The Prince gives a ball tomorrow night,” whispered the young student, “and my love will
be there. If I bring her a red rose, I shall hold her in my arms, and she will put her head upon my shoulder, and her hand will be in mine. But there is no red rose in my garden, so I shall sit alone, and she will pass me by, and my heart will break.”
“Here indeed is a true lover,” said the Nightingale. “What I sing about, he suffers; what is joy to me, to him is pain. Love is a wonderful thing. It is dearer than jewels.”
“The musicians will play, and my love will dance,” said the young student. “She will dance so lightly that her feet will not touch the floor. But she will not dance with me, for I have no red rose to give her,” and he threw himself down on the grass and buried his face in his hands, and cried.
“Why is he crying?” asked a little green lizard, as he ran past him with his tail in the air.
“He is crying for a red rose,” said the Nightingale.
“For a red rose? How funny.” The little lizard laughed loudly.
But the Nightingale understood the secret of the student’s sorrow, and she sat silent in the oak-tree, and thought about love.
Suddenly she spread her brown wings and flew up into the air. She passed through the wood like a shadow, and like a shadow she flew over the garden.
In the centre of the lawn was standing a beautiful rose-tree., and when she saw it, she flew over to it and said, “Give me a red rose and I will sing you my sweetest song.” But the rose-tree shook its head.
“My roses are white,” it answered, “whiter than the snow upon the mountains. But go to my brother who grows round the old sun-dial, and perhaps he will give you what you want.”
So the Nightingale flew over to the rose-tree that was growing round the old sun-dial.
“Give me a red rose,” she cried, “and I will singyou my sweetest song.”
But the rose-tree shook its head. “My roses are yellow,” it answered. “But go to my brother who grows under the student’s window, and perhaps he will give you what you want.”
So the Nightingale flew over to the rose-tree that was growing under the student’s window.
But the rose-tree shook its head.
“My roses are red,” it answered. “But the winter has frozen my buds, and the storm has broken my branches, and I shall have no roses at all this year.”
“One red rose is all I want,” cried the Nightingale, “only one red rose! Is there no way how to get it?”
“There is a way,” answered the rose-tree, “but it is so terrible that I am afraid to tell you about it.”
“Tell me,” said the Nightingale, “I am not afraid.”
“If you want a red rose,” said the tree, “you must build it out of music by moonlight, and crimson it with your own heart’s blood. You must sing to me with your breast against a thorn.