Home » The frog and the nightingale by Vikram Seth summary

The frog and the nightingale by Vikram Seth summary

In this poem by Vikram Seth, the author gives a story about a frog and a nightingale. The frog lived in a Bingle Bog and croaked every night. The other animals in the forest did not like its voice and all perceived it as a nuisance “Other creatures loathed his voice”. The other animals tried to keep the frog quiet but did not succeed and eventually resigned to their situation until the nightingale came. One night a nightingale perched upon the tree that the frog lived under and started to sing. Her voice was so beautiful that it attracted the animals in the bog. At the end of the nightingale’s performance the other animals showered their praise to the bird much to the chagrin of the frog. The frog devised a plan to stifle the nightingale’s performance by posing as an expert in music to intentionally mislead the nightingale. The frog told the nightingale that he owned the tree she had perched on and that he was a revered musician and would like to help the nightingale achieve success. The nightingale foolishly/ naively accepted the plan by the frog, to practice every time while the frog charged the audience and kept the money as payment for his tree and his advice to the bird. The frog made the bird practice and put up performances even in poor weather conditions eventually leading to death of the nightingale. The frog eventually reveals his ruthless and jealous nature by sarcastically blaming the nightingale for her own demise. The concluding verse;

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 known
That 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 frog
Blared unrivalled through the bog.


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