What Is The Story Of The Nightingale And The Rose?


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Although written by Oscar Wilde, this story has its roots in a much older legend: that the nightingale's song is produced by the bird's suffering and blood.

In Wilde's story, a poor student wants to invite a young woman to a dance. He believes that if he can bring her a red rose, she will dance with him and return his love. A nightingale hears this and is filled with pity for the young man; she herself sings of the sorrow of love, but he, she thinks, is really experiencing it. She goes to all the rose trees and begs them to give her a red rose, but there are none. Finally she is told that if she will sing all night with her breast pressed against a thorn, her heart's blood will stain the rose red, though she herself must die.

The nightingale agrees; she sings wonderfully all night, and dies in pain having created a perfect red rose. The student picks it, and rushes joyfully to offer it to his beloved. But she won't touch, as she has found a more wealthy admirer. In disgust the student throws the rose out of the window and goes back to his books.

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