While looking at Nightingale Fairy Tales to Spotlight this week, I came across a couple of major contenders. First, the Danish tale “The Nightingale” written by Hans Christian Andersen in 1843. Second, the English short story “The Nightingale and the Rose” by Oscar Wilde penned in 1888.
I am an Oscar Wilde lover and must say I expected to adore his story. Sob, alas, I did not. It broke my heart and I hate him for that. On the other hand, I expected the HCS version to be horribly tragic, but it wasn’t. It was lovely and relevant. Relevant. Relevant. Relevant.
The HCS version tells the tale of the Emperor of China and his desire for the nightingale to join him in court so he can bask in her song. The bird obliged. For many years, the Emperor favored the nightingale over all other things in his court until one day he was gifted a bejeweled, mechanical nightingale. The Emperor become so enamored with the artificial bird that he lost interest in his feathered friend. Because the Emperor no longer desired the company of the nightingale she flew back off to live in the forest. Years later the nightingale heard her old friend the Emperor was on his death bed. Harboring no resentment or ill regard the nightingale flew to the Emperor’s side and sang sweetly to him. Death was so moved by her song that he did not take the Emperor from her.
How is this relevant? It’s relevant because today’s society prefers the mechanical over the genuine. Ironically the masses farm virtually on computer games while stuffing their face with processed food-like garbage. They communicate in chat rooms with people they will never meet but don’t know their next door neighbors name. They choose the bejeweled, mechanical nightingale over the feathered songbird as habitats are destroyed and entire species are being wiped out. I hope it doesn’t take a death be visit from a nightingale to wake us up.
If you have a box of tissue handy you may want to read the tragically ironic short story The Nightingale and the Rose by Oscar Wild. (1854-1900). Though it’s beauty and sentiment is without measure, I wish I had not read it. I hate you Oscar Wilde.