2 IntroductionThe allegorical poem The Frog and the Nightingale by Vikram Seth conveys the thought that if you want to succeed you must have self confidence in your abilities even if you are exceptionally talented. It talks about how inspired and influenced by someone much unknown and strange is indeed a foolish work. There is a dominance of iambic meter with a regular rhyme scheme of A-A-B-B.
3 BriefThis story is about a frog and a nightingale who lived in the Bingle Bog.This poem by Vikram Seth is a musical parody where the Frog and the Nightingale represent two contrasting characters.The frog is the boastful, domineering character, whereas the nightingale has been portrayed as a meek, nervous, polite bird who is afraid of the frog.The poem has been told in the style of a story. Starts “ Once upon a time … then the poem progresses in a definite direction and finally concludes with the death of the bird.
4 The Poet Vikram Seth Vikram Seth was born in Calcutta in 1952. He left India to study at OxfordHis first novel, The Golden Gate, is written entirely in tetrameter sonnets,He won the Commonwealth Poetry Prize in 1986and the Sahitya Academy award in 1988.
5 POEM Once upon a time a frog Croaked away in Bingle Bog. Every night from dusk to dawnHe croaked awn and awn and awn.Other creatures loathed his voice,But, alas, they had no choice,And the crass cacophonyBlared out from the sumac treeAt whose foot the frog each nightMinstrelled on till morning light.Neither stones nor prayers nor sticks.Insults or complaints or bricksStilled the frog's determinationTo display his heart's elation.
6 But one night a nightingale In the moonlight cold and palePerched upon the sumac treeCasting forth her melody.Dumbstruck sat the gaping frog.And the whole admiring bogStared towards the sumac, rapt,And, when she had ended, clapped,Ducks had swum and herons wadedTo her as she serenaded,And a solitary loonWept, beneath the summer moon.Toads and teals and tiddlers, capturedBy her voice, cheered on, enraptured:
7 'Bravo!' 'Too divine!' 'Encore!’ So the nightingale once more,Quite unused to such applause,Sang till dawn without a pause.Next night when the nightingaleShook her head and twitched her tail,Closed an eye and fluffed a wingAnd had cleared her throat to singShe was startled by a croak.'Sorry- was that you who spoke?'She enquired when the frogHopped towards her from the bog.'Yes,' the frog replied. 'You see,I'm the frog who owns this tree.
8 In this bog I've long been known For my splendid baritone,And, of course, I wield my penFor Bog Trumpet now and then.''Did you ... did you like my song?'Not too bad - but far too long.The technique was fine, of course,But it lacked a certain force’.‘Oh!' the nightingale confessed.Greatly flattered and impressedThat a critic of such noteHad discussed her art and throat:'I don't think the song's divine.But - oh, well - at least it's mine.'
9 'That's not much to boast about’, Said the heartless frog. “WithoutProper training such as I-And few others - can supply,You'll remain a mere beginner.But with me you'll be a winner.”'Dearest frog,' the nightingaleBreathed: 'This is a fairy tale-And you're Mozart in disguiseCome to earth before my eyes’.'Well, I charge a modest fee.''Oh!' 'But it won't hurt, you'll see’Now the nightingale, inspired,Flushed with confidence, and fired
10 With both art and adoration, Sang - and was a huge sensation.Animals for miles aroundFlocked towards the magic sound,And the frog with great precisionCounted heads and charged admission.Though next morning it was raining,He began her vocal training.'But I can't sing in this weather''Come, my dear - we'll sing together.Just put on your scarf and sash.Koo-oh-ah! ko-ash! ko-ash!'So the frog and nightingaleJourneyed up and down the scale
11 For six hours, till she was shivering And her voice was hoarse and quivering.Though subdued and sleep-deprived,In the night her throat revived,And the sumac tree was bowedWith a breathless, titled crowd:Owl of Sandwich, Duck of Kent,Mallard and Milady Trent,Martin Cardinal Mephisto,And the Coot of Monte Cristo.Ladies with tiaras glitteringIn the interval sat twittering-And the frog observed them glitterWith a joy both sweet and bitter.
12 Every day the frog who'd sold her Songs for silver tried to scold her:'You must practice even longerTill your voice, like mine, grows stronger.In the second song last nightYou got nervous in mid-flight.And, my dear, lay on-more trills:Audiences enjoy such frills.You must make your public happier:Give them something sharper, snappier.We must aim for better billings.You still owe me sixty shillings.’Day by day the nightingaleGrew more sorrowful and pale.
13 Night on night her tired song Zipped and trilled and bounced along,Till the birds and beasts grew tiredAt a voice so uninspiredAnd the ticket office grossCrashed, and she grew more morose-For her ears were now addictedTo applause quite unrestricted,And to sing into the nightAll alone gave no delight.Now the frog puffed up with rage.‘Brainless bird - you're on the stage-Use your wits and follow fashion.Puff your lungs out with your passion.’
14 Trembling, terrified to fail, Blind with tears, the nightingaleHeard him out in silence, tried,Puffed up, burst a vein, and died.Said the frog: 'I tried to teach her,But she was a stupid creature -Far too nervous, far too tense.Far too prone to influence.Well, poor bird - she should have knownThat your song must be your own.That's why I sing with panache:'Koo-oh-ah! ko-ash! ko-ash!’And the foghorn of the frogBlared unrivalled through the bog.
15 Summary :A frog croaked all night in a bog, in a loud unpleasant voice.One night, a nightingale suddenly began to sing.All the other creatures in the bog cheered and clapped at her beautiful song.The next night, the frog introduced himself.He offered to train the nightingale, so that she could sing even more beautifully.Soon the nightingale became famous, and creatures for miles around came to hear the nightingale sing.The frog charged an admission fee, and earned a lot of money from these concerts.But the frog made the nightingale rehearse too much, and in the rain.As a result, her voice lost its beauty, and the other creatures stopped coming to hear her sing.Finally, the nightingale burst a vein and died.So the frog could once more sing at night in his bog, unrivalled.
16 Moral Of The PoemThe moral of the poem is that being inspired and influenced by someone much unknown and strange is indeed a foolish work. The nightingale could have very well judged that how could the frog with such a harsh voice be music maestro and she had to suffer for her misjudgment. Many people in the human society also try to take advantage of the innocence or ignorance of the people.
17 The Frog The Nightingale Territorial and boastful – I’m the frog who owns the tree. Technique was fine, But it lacked certain forcePatronizing – Without proper training …You’ll remain a beginner.Possessive, greedy – “We must aim for better billings…..”Arrogant and condescending – “I tried to teach her… a stupid creature”Polite, soft, timorous. – “sorry was that you who spoke”Nervous and shy- “Did you, did you like my song”Timid and polite – “This is a fairy tale. And you are Mozart in disguise..”
18 Points to be noted :The poet employs interesting comparison like – the nightingale called the frog, Mozart.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.
19 Poetic Devices Personification- Animals and birds have been personifiedand they have been given human like characteristics and to accentuate the effect ,he adds on titles of the elite society of England to the birds who came to listen to the song of the nightingale.Metaphor-The frog has been compared to Mozart ,a famous Austrian music composer who has come to help her.Alliteration-It refers to the repetition of consonant sound...E.g.: - follow fashion ; sixty shillings