Monday, May 31, 2010

Juliet’s Question

It was the one hour in the long twenty-four that stands off alone to itself, far away from midnight, not the least bit close to the dawn. 
 The very dead of night.  
Three am.
I alone was awake in the house.  I alone heard the song.  An eerie tune, almost macabre, that rose up out of the trees in the garden, so unexpected, so strange, a concerto performed by a feathered musician hitherto unheard in these parts.
Singing full tilt at the top of his lungs, like a sentinel warning of battle, his shrill voice split through the night like an arrow.  I slipped out of bed and went to the window.  The Flower moon, so full in the sky, illuminated all her white subjects - Annabelle's and impatiens, gardenia and rose.  They shone like a gargantuan strand of Mother Nature’s best pearls, broken and scattered cross a navy blue floor.
The anonymous bird sang his song on and on, with barely a stop between stanzas, more urgent than joyful, a song for the night.  
“Who is he?”, I thought, as a shudder ran its finger along my shoulders.
 A raven herald of myth, or a starling in the midst of a dream?  A phoenix rising from the ashes of the moon, or a firebird in search of the sun’s golden fruit?
 So I wondered as Juliet had long before me,
 was it the Lark or the Nightingale that sang in my garden,
 long after midnight, too early for dawn?

 Wilt thou be gone? it is not yet near day: 
    It was the nightingale, and not the lark, 
    That pierced the fearful hollow of thine ear; 
    Nightly she sings on yon pomegranate-tree: 
    Believe me, love, it was the nightingale. 

It was the lark, the herald of the morn, 
    No nightingale: look, love, what envious streaks 
    Do lace the severing clouds in yonder east: 
    Night's candles are burnt out, and jocund day 
    Stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops. 
    I must be gone and live, or stay and die. 

Romeo and Juliet
Act 3, Scene 5
by William Shakespeare