Portrait of the nightingale.

Portrait of the nightingale.

Text Translation:

Of the nightingale The nightingale is so called because it signals with its song the dawn of the new day; a light-bringer, lucenia, so to speak. It is an ever-watchful sentinel, warming its eggs in a hollow of its body, relieving the sleepless effort of the long night with the sweetness of its song. It seems to me that the main aim of the bird is to hatch its eggs and give life to its young with sweet music no less than with the warmth of its body. The poor but modest mother, her arm dragging the millstone around, that her children may not lack bread, imitates the nightingale, easing the misery of her poverty with a night-time song, and although she cannot imitate the sweetness of the bird, she matches it in her devotion to duty.

Folio 52v – the jay, continued. De lucinia; Of the nightingale.


  1. kestrel says

    I love these birds, but this does bring up something that is so odd to me. That is people don’t seem to understand why birds sing. So I hear, a lot, “she” has a beautiful voice… LOL… it is the males who sing, and they do it to establish and defend territory. As I recall even in the fairy tale by Hans Christian Anderson, the nightingale in question is a “she”. This disturbed me as a child because even then I knew full well it would be a male singing, not a female. (But I guess Anderson had become infatuated with Jenny Lind the singer, and so his nightingale was female. Perhaps I should forgive him.)

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