THE FROG AND THE NIGHTINGALE by Vikram Seth

Poem
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

Neither stones nor prayers nor sticks. Insults or complaints or bricks Stilled the frogs determination To display his heart's elation. 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,

Toads and teals and tiddlers. clapped. captured By her voice. when she had ended. Ducks had swum and herons waded To her as she serenaded And a solitary loon Wept. enraptured: ´Bravo!µ ´Too divine!µ ´Encore!µ So the nightingale once more. cheered on. .And. Quite unused to such applause. beneath the summer moon. Sang till dawn without a pause.

´Sorry ² was that you who spoke?µ She enquired when the frog Hopped towards her from the bog.Next night when the Nightingale Shook her head and twitched her tail. ´Yes.µ the frog replied. I wield my pen For Bog Trumpet now and thenµ . I'm the frog who owns this tree In this bog I've long been known For my splendid baritone And. Closed an eye and fluffed a wing And had cleared her throat to sing She was startled by a croak. ´You see. of course.

´Oh!µ 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. well ² at least it's mineµ. But it lacked a certain forceµ. The technique was fine of course. But ² oh.´Did you« did you like my song?µ ´Not too bad ² but far too long. .

You'll remain a mere beginner. But with me you'll be a winnerµ ´Dearest frogµ. . Said the heartless frog. the nightingale Breathed: ´This is a fairy tale ² And you are Mozart in disguise Come to earth before my eyesµ.And few others can supply.´That's not much to boast aboutµ. ´Without Proper training such as I .

you'll seeµ Now the nightingale inspired. And the frog with great precision Counted heads and charged admission. Animals for miles around Flocked towards the magic sound. and fired With both art and adoration. . Sang ² and was a huge sensation. Flushed with confidence.µ ´Oh!µ ´But it won't hurt.´Well I charge a modest fee.

Though next morning it was raining. till she was shivering and her voice was hoarse and quivering. Just put on your scarf and sash. Koo-oh-ah! ko-ash! ko-ash!µ So the frog and nightingale Journeyed up and down the scale For six hours. . ´But I can't sing in this weatherµ ´Come my dear ² we'll sing together. He began her vocal training.

In the night her throat revived. . Duck of Kent. Ladies with tiaras glittering In the interval sat twittering ² And the frog observed them glitter With a joy both sweet and bitter. titled crowd: Owl of Sandwich. Mallard and Milady Trent. Martin Cardinal Mephis10to. And the Coot of Monte Cristo.Though subdued and sleep deprived. And the sumac tree was bowed. With a breathless.

lay on more trills: Audiences enjoy such frills.Every day the frog who'd sold her Songs for silver tried to scold her: ´You must practice even longer Till your voice. my dear. And. You still owe me sixty shillings. like mine grows stronger. In the second song last night You got nervous in mid-flight. You must make your public happier: Give them something sharper snappier.µ . We must aim for better billings.

Day by day the nightingale Grew more sorrowful and pale. And to sing into the night All alone gave no delight. and she grew more morose For her ears were now addicted To applause quite unrestricted. Till the birds and beasts grew tired At a voice so uninspired And the ticket office gross Crashed. . Night on night her tired song Zipped and trilled and bounced along.

the nightingale Heard him out in silence. . burst a vein.Now the frog puffed up with rage. ´Brainless bird ² you're on the stage ² Use your wits and follow fashion. terrified to fail. Puffed up. Puff your lungs out with your passion.µ Trembling. Blind with tears. and died. tried.

But she was a stupid creature ² Far too nervous. far too tense. That's why I sing with panache: ´Koo-oh-ah! ko-ash! ko-ash!µ And the foghorn of the frog Blared unrivalled through the bog.Said the frog: ´I tried to teach her. . Far too prone to influence. poor bird ² she should have known That your song must be your own. Well.

Melody-sweet music 11. so that you cannot think of nothing else perched-sat .Stilled-quitened 7.Cacophony-a very loud unpleasant voice 4.Minstrelled-sang continuously 6.Loathed-hated 2.Crass-complete very great 3.Dumb struck-unable to talk because of surprise 12.P9.Blared-uttered loudly 5.Determination-resolve 8.Casting-spreading 10.Word Meanings ` 1.Rapt-totally interested.

Tiddler.Pause-stoppage 24.Toad 16.Captured-attracted 19.Encore-sing once more 21.Twitch-pull with sudden jerk 25.very small fish 18.` 13.Solitary-alone 14.Splendid-excellent -a kind of frog .Croak-sound made by frog 28.Teal-a small duck 17.Fluff-spread out 26.Unused to-not used to 22.Enraptured-very much delighted 20.Applause-praise 23.Loon-a person or creature who behaved strangely 15.Startled-got alarmed 27.

Indisguise.Floacked-came in large number 42.very excited and pleased 38.` 29.Confessed-admitted 31.Precision-exactness 43.Tiaras ²metal badge .in a different shape 36.Flattered-pleased 32.Modest-small 37.Flushed.Huge sensation.Adoration-Great admiration 40.Baritone-male singing voice 30.big excitement 41.Mozart-a great German music 35.Fired with-inspired by 39.Divine-heavenly 34.Note-reputation 33.

The Poet y y y y Vikram Seth was born in Calcutta in 1952. The Golden Gate. He won the Commonwealth Poetry Prize in 1986and the Sahitya Academy award in 1988. . is written entirely in tetrameter sonnets. He left India to study at Oxford His first novel.

The Frog The Bog .

² ´sorry was that you who spokeµ Nervous and shy.´Did you. timorous.µ . did you like my songµ Timid and polite ² ´This is a fairy tale. And you are Mozart in disguise. soft.The Nightingale y y y Polite..

µ y Arrogant and condescending ² ´I tried to teach her« a stupid creatureµ y . Technique was fine. But it lacked certain force y Patronizing ² Without proper training «You·ll remain a beginner.. greedy ² ´We must aim for better billings«. y Possessive.The Frog Territorial and boastful ² I·m the frog who owns the tree.

easily fooled by the cunning frog who represents a music critic and trainer. . simple singer. a satire in the style and mode of a fable in which birds and animals act and behave like humans .Introduction y This is a humorous poem . The poem shows nightingale as a naive. is well known Indian writer in English. The poem is full of witticisms and clever use of old and new words. famous for such works as The Golden Gate and A Suitable Boy. He uses the nightingale to make money and then causes her death in order to himself become the king of ´Bingle Bogµ. The poet. Vikram Seth.

posing as a music critic and trainer. Soon.Summary y In Bingle Bog. the nightingale became famous throughout the forest and creatures came from miles away to hear her sing. one night. Then. offered to train the nightingale so that she could sing even more beautifully. Everyone hated his singing but could do nothing about it. All the creature welcomed this lovely voice and cheered her singing. The clever frog charged an admission fee from those who came . a frog used to croak in his pleasant voice all night. a nightingale suddenly began to sing on the Sumac tree. the frog approached the nightingale and. Next night.

As a result. the frog made the nightingale rehearse too much. the nightingale burst a vein and died. the frog could sing in Bingle Bog unrivalled and without any competition. . sometimes even when it raining.to hear the nightingale·s singing and soon earned a lot of money. Finally. Wanting more money. once again. as a result of overstrain. The nightingale died because she did not realize that ¶your song must be your own·. the nightingales' voice lost its charm and the other creature stopped coming to hear her singing. Now.

´Without Proper training such as I . a) Who is the frog speaking to? The frog is speaking to the nightingale.Comprehension check 1. .And few others can supply. The nightingale has impressed and won the hearts of everyone in the Bingle Bog by her melodious voice. Said the heartless frog.´That's not much to boast aboutµ.

c) Why is the frog so heartless? The frog is very dismissive as he did not want to rival against the nightingale. He wanted to show the nightingale that he was not impressed at all and was highly dismissive.b) What has the listener have to say when the frog said that it is "not too much to boast about"? The nightingale says that she knows that her songs is not divine but it is original. . At this the frog says that being original is "not too much to boast about".

´Well I charge a modest fee. ´Dearest frogµ. . later gets impressed by his boasting and the way he boasted and told her about his famous baritone.µ ´Oh!µ ´But it won't hurt. The bird got impressed immediately and said that he was Mozart who had come to Earth in front of her eyes to teach him. you'll seeµ a) What light do these lines throw on the bird's character? These lines show us that the bird was first startled by the frog's croak. the nightingale Breathed: ´This is a fairy tale ² And you are Mozart in disguise Come to earth before my eyesµ.2.

He also said that he used to write songs for the "Bog Trumpet" that is an imaginary magazine.b) What did the frog say to impress the nightingale? The frog started out by telling the bird about his famous baritone voice. He only wanted the bird to know that he was a powerful frog that could turn a beginner into a winner . When the bird asked the frog for training he asked for some fees not because he wanted the money but because he wanted to prove the authenticity and the quality of his training. c) Why do you think the frog was charging a fee? The frog was charging a fee not because he wanted the money but because he wanted to make tuitions sound more authentic.

with a breathless. Martin Cardinal Mephisto. Duck of Kent. Ladies with tiaras glittering In the interval sat twittering ² And the frog observed them glitter With a joy both sweet and bitter. And the Coot of Monte Cristo. . titled crowd: Owl of Sandwich. Mallard and Milady Trent.3.

These names are actually the names of the people who are highly ranked in England. it shows that the crowd was rich and elite. The "Duck of Kent" was actually the "Duke of Kent". Also. to make the poem more interesting. The poet has added theses names to the rhyming schemes. . The "My Lord and My Lady Trent" were "Milord and Milady Trent" etc.a) Why is there reference to a titled crowd? What do these names suggest? The referenced to the names are actually real.

more people were coming to the show and thus he was getting more money at the ticket counter. He wanted to be famous thus his feelings were both. "bitter and sweet".b) Why was the frog's feeling been called both "bitter and sweet"? The frog was happy that after his training there had been improvements in the performance of the bird. The frog was sad as well as he wanted to be the one to be on the stage and be performing. Thus. .

So. This way. he charged on entry from the animals. Every day the frog who'd sold her Songs for silver tried to scold her: ´You must practice even longer Till your voice. he earned money from her show and thus. like mine grows stronger. he "sold her songs for silver".4. In the second song last night a) What is meant by. . "who sold her songs for silver"? The frog who charged fee realized that she had to pay him back.

. This would make her voice loud and strong. like mine grow stronger"? The frog was realizing that she was becoming competition from him and that he has to remove her from his way. c) How does the training affect the bird? Due to the harsh conditions in which the frog trained the bird. That bird one nigh killed herself by puffing up and bursting a vein.b) Why does the frog says. So. she got more sorrowful and pale and tired after each day. "Till your voice. he keeps the training the bird beyond her limits in harsh conditions. Hence no one would like her anymore.

5. the animals got tired of them and left.µ a) Why was the frog so angry with the bird? When the nightingale started singing shrilly. the money stated to lessen and this made the frog extremely angry. ´Brainless bird ² you're on the stage ² Use your wits and follow fashion. . b) What did he ask the nightingale to do? The frog ordered the nightingale to use her wits and try to do something entertaining for the audience. Puff your lungs out with your passion. Now the frog puffed up with rage. Hence.

Some point to be noted are «. The use of the rhyming scheme makes the poem rhythmic and musical. Mozart. y The poet employs interesting comparison like ² the nightingale called the frog. y The irony is that the creature which doesn·t even know what music is tries to teach music to a bird like nightingale who possesses a melodious voice. y The manner in which the frog trains the nightingale has been beautifully described. y .

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