I wish I could hear a nightingale
Amid the shouts of boozy drinkers in the fields ,
The slamming of car doors
And roar of traffic round the narrow streets.
Here in my Hampstead garden, once a haven
From the busy modern world, I find no peace;
The song birds long since fled – the nightingale,
Keats` Dryad of the trees, cannot compete
With aircraft noise and neon lighting.
The Heath`s melodious plots have vanished
And left the barking dogs, the flashers and the perverts
To commandeer the field.
Few trees remain from Keats` time of beechen green
Providing sanctuary for the summer singer;
Now replaced by roads and housing blocks
And lights on poles. MY heart aches for the long ago
When one might hear birds sing.

Time was when drink could drive away the present;
Now drugs are more effective.
Youth still grows pale and spectre-thin – AIDS positive
With eyes unnaturally lustrous,
While you sing unendingly of summers now
And long ago.
Symbol of everlasting joy and beauty
Contrasting with our earthly transience,
Your melody scarce heard fades.
Wishing I could leave this dark unhappy world
In my imagination joining you in moon-light
Far above the earth.

Few flowers are at my feet.
No incense hangs upon the long gone boughs
And even the flies no longer murmur
Choked by fumes from car exhausts and barbecues.
Garish lighting accentuates the gloomy patches
And half in the dark and light
I try to listen to your ethereal song .
A symbol of another sphere of joy and ecstasy
You make my world a dull and mortal place
Which I could leave for ever
To join you in your rapture.

Your life is everlasting while you sing
Of beauty, love and hope.
Here we humans die in fever and despair
And live a little life that nothing signifies.
Above the traffic`s noise at midnight
I stop and listen to your voice
That few can hear and even fewer care.
Listening, your joyful world I enter
If only for a moment.

A moment`s happiness! So soon lost
In present life`s distractions;
The blaring radio from one side ;
The noisy tv from the other.
No longer can I hear you in imagination;
Even the poetic mind is useless
To maintain illusion of your music
Which fading over the heath
Leaves me dejected and dispirited
– one of the common herd once more.

© A.B. Finlay Ph.D