The conversation in this poem was inspired by the tale "The Nightingale and the Rose" by Oscar Wilde, something I read in English literature class. Yet I have also drawn deeply from personal experience for this piece. My first composition in blank verse, this long poem answers a question for all who are patient enough to read and understand it...What is the best gift love can give?
The little boy came to the nightingale
And asked with youthful curiosity,
"Dear love-bird, if I deeply love a girl,
What present can I give to prove my love?
I've never loved a person more before
And want to give what no one else can give."
The nightingale looked on him long and sure,
"That present only truest love can give."
The little boy gazed at the nightingale
And asked with patient, slight uncertainty,
"Dear love-bird, if I want to give to her
What I can never give to someone else,
What present can I give to only her?
What present can I give to prove my love?"
The nightingale looked on him kind and long,
"That present can be given only once."
The little boy sighed at the nightingale
And asked with young frustration in his voice,
"Dear love-bird, will you please tell me today
What present's worth the most in all the earth?
I want to give what money cannot buy
For she is worth far more than jewels are."
The nightingale looked on him sweet and kind,
"This present's worth is irretrievable.
"Dear boy," the bird replied, "this special gift,
This present that you seek to give to her
Is never bought, though often rashly giv'n,
Is never earned, but granted undeserved,
'Tis what no other one can give to her,
'Tis what no other can receive but her,
Its worth is priceless, for there only is
But one in every human life on earth."
The bird continued as the boy, so filled
With love, did strain his youthful ear to hear,
"This gift is truer than fine silvery;
This gift is giving what is part of you.
Her heart can melt when you give it to her,
But you must give with warnings in your ear:
For this dear present, once given away,
Can never be outdone or taken back.
"If you should love her till the end of life,
Then only do you have the right to give;
But if you cannot love her till the end,
Then you should hesitate to grant this gift."
"Oh what's the gift?" the boy would want to know.
"No matter what the cost I'll gladly pay,
No matter what the work I will accept,
For I love her more than I love myself."
"The gift is simple, priceless, and profound,
'Tis given once, yet given not alone,
'Tis given with a record you must bear
No matter what may change in days to come.
The gift you seek is rightly named as--'First'
And it is given with whate'er you choose:
A song, a kiss, a hug, a word or three...
You give it only once eternally."
"Oh that is easy!" the young boy exclaimed.
"Oh no! 'Tis not!" the bird did reprimand,
"For once you give this gift away to one,
No human being can have it again.
You might give greater, better, stronger things,
But 'first' has ownership for one alone.
So please, be wary of what you decide,
For though you've found the gift, please bide the price."
The boy in love looked happy yet confused,
He's found the gift, but many warnings too.
"Oh be not sad," the love-bird sweetly said,
"For love would give what can be given now,
But save for last what's best among them all.
The choice of what to give and what to save,
Is yours to make, with wisdom, love, and sense,
And yours to keep throughout your days ahead."
The young boy hesitated for a while,
Then lifted up his visage with a smile,
"I think I've learned what gift is best of all,
'Tis not a gift of passion or of gold,
'Tis not a gift of words or one of praise,
But 'tis a gift I give once and for all."
And off he skipped to give his special gift,
While silently, the nightingale did muse.
"I hope that this one makes his choices well,
Lest I have one more saddened tale to tell,"
Spoke thus the bird, spoke thus the nightingale.