Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Nightingale and the Rose

The Nightingale and the Rose is one of my favorite short stories.

'One red rose is all I want,' cried the Nightingale, `only one red rose! Is there no way by which I can get it?'

`There is a way,' answered the Tree; `but it is so terrible that I dare not tell it to you.'

`Tell it to me,' said the Nightingale, `I am not afraid.'

`If you want a red rose,' said the Tree, `you must build it out of music by moonlight, and stain it with your own heart's-blood. You must sing to me with your breast against a thorn. All night long you must sing to me, and the thorn must pierce your heart, and your life-blood must flow into my veins, and become mine.'

Why is it that I must sacrifice for anything worth having?

And why is so high a price demanded for anything I love?


yitz.. said...

רחמנא ליבא בעי - haShem wants our hearts..

when it's something you really value, you won't even consider the price.

Anonymous said...

The value of the reward usually renders the price insignificant, if the desired object is as good as it sounds.

Daniel said...

That is without doubt one of the saddest stories I have ever read. I can't quite believe it was intended for young children (although death was more or less a constant presence for Victorian children).

If you didn't have to sacrifice, would it still be worth having? Having to sacrifice for something makes it seem more worthwhile (for one thing, you only make the sacrifice if you think it really is worthwhile). It is human nature to appreciate something you've actually worked for more than something given to you on a platter.

But you've missed out the saddest part of the story, which is the end, where the nightingale's death was all in vain. That's the saddest thing, when your painful sacrifice, pouring out your heart and soul, is just ignored.

Ezzie said...

What Daniel said, basically:

You love it more for the high price.

Elster said...

This story isn't about the ultimate GAIN of sacrifice, but rather about how sacrificing for love is ultimately fruitless.
It's not sad and touching, it's just downright depressing with a terrible message attached: "Why bother sacrificing for love since it's all in vain".

arade89 said...

it is the only way for it to turly be yours

russkaya devochka said...

This story is gorgeous, of course, but you can't really avoid the message that sacrificing for love is futile, and man is fickle of heart...
Don't you like the (real) Little Mermaid, where, at least, her pain and heartbreak are rewarded in the end...(sort of)

Sihvyl said...

By chance, have you read "The Thorn Birds" by Coleen McCollough(sp?)?

It's a pretty good story at any rate, but in the book she talks of the birds stabbing themselves, and singing. I haven't thought about that for a long time..

Scraps said...

That is a very, very depressing story.

Still, to a certain degree, I agree. That which you sacrifice for is that much more precious for all you've put into it. The effort and pain and sacrifice make it more valuable and beautiful.

It doesn't mean it is easy. Sometimes it hurts tremedously. But in the end, it will be worth it.

comments from the peanut gallery said...

I agree that things of value usually require hard work. in fact, part of their value stems from the very work put in, but i think there's a distinction between hard work and sacrifice. i actually saw the message of the story to be that at a certain point, no matter how much you want something, the price just isn't worth it. sometime's we think we want something so badly that we give up something even more precious, like our health, relationships, or even life itself. based on the previous, it would appear that most of the commenters would say suicide or martydom is okay as long as you want the end result badly enough. i don't agree.