I shall not hear the Nightingale. Sing on as if in pain.

41yjSAQeq1L__SX331_BO1,204,203,200_ oosterman treats

These words are part of a poem by Christina Rossetti. Last night’s effort in resisting Alzheimer or dementia, was an exercise in trying to remember the last few lines of her beautiful poem. It was harder than I thought. Why try it in the first place? It could well be this looming Christmas whereby I resort to contemplating what might be next in store. Close to another year having dropped its autumn leaves. Another ring around this aging trunk. Of course, here in the Southern world, it is the wilting of spring flowers that heralds the end of the year. A hot Christmas might well be in the offering. The Bogong moths are already trooping, getting ready for their annual migration to the much cooler Snowy mountains.

This photo from Google images.


Our first Christmas celebration in Australia was astonishing. I still remember that smell of beer and ripe prawns. The mid-night Mass with the congregation wearing shorts and rubber thongs. The Bogong moths swirling dangerously above my head, yet most people ignored them. The priest himself pleasantly full of the higher spirit that included pre-mass long necked lagers and brown hearty ale.

The moths were tame and just seeking each other out to form a swarm. When large enough a group would get ready for their long journey of hundreds of kilometres. Nature is so amazingly ordered and logical. In earlier times, the aboriginals, the original owners of this land used to feast themselves to a kingdom as well on these fat moths.

Another memory stuck through all those years, and probably getting richer as time passes, was a particular wedding that we went to. Again it was during summer heat. The venue was a golf course club house. A magnificent affair. The bride looked radiant, the groom suitably flustered and suited. The food all spread out on tables and fine linen. Prawns and salads, mignon steak and spinach sauté, flowing Chardonnay well oaked. As it was during those long gone years.

But then the Bogongs joined the party. Hundreds if not thousands of them. All swirling around. The overhead fans offering so treacherously the cooler air they craved for. The fans also slaughtered them. Those poor Bogongs now falling down in a spray of grey, gently landing on the food below as marital dust. No matter, the party was well on its way. Speeches were made and music flared up in between it all. The beverages had worked its magic. It was a great wedding. She was Croatian and he Australian from English background. They are still together as far as we know. A rare event, nowadays. They even had twin boys.

But here is the poem;  Christina Rossetti.

Those Shadows.

I shall not see the shadows.
I shall not feel the rain
I shall not hear the Nightingale.
Sing on as if in pain
And dreaming through the twilight
that doth not rise nor set.
Hapley I may remember
And hapley may forget.


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31 Responses to “I shall not hear the Nightingale. Sing on as if in pain.”

  1. gerard oosterman Says:

    The beginning of this poem ‘Those Shadows’ is as follows;

    When I am dead, my dearest,

    Sing no sad songs for me;

    Plant thou no roses at my head,

    Nor shady cypress tree:

    Be the green grass above me

    With showers and dewdrops wet;

    And if thou wilt, remember,

    And if thou wilt, forget.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. petspeopleandlife Says:

    It seems strange for your Christmas to be during your summer but that’s how it is down under. We all must adjust to changes in out lives and I bet that was somewhat of an adjustment for you coming from Holland where Christmas time is cold.

    I really like the poem.It is quite lovely.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. gerard oosterman Says:

    It was especially difficult for my parents. I would go to the beach and try and get brown instead. There was even someone who for a small amount of money would spray you with coconut oil. My affair with sun was short-lived.
    Now, I am strictly a shade seeker. The darker the better. Wombats know what it is like to live down under.


  4. berlioz1935 Says:

    I like your post (again) and musing. The poem is fitting my present mood and what will be my not too far off future. The medical professions have found in me another object they can test their skill against death on.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. jennypellett Says:

    I read somewhere recently that a sure fire test for Alzheimer’s is peanut butter. If you can recognise the smell, it’s probably unlikely that you have the dreaded disease.
    I love that poem. Haven’t read or heard it for years, so thanks for the memory 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      I am happy to say that I can still smell peanut butter. I keep a jar of it in the cup-board. I sometimes use it in making a hot and spicy peanut sauce , in combination with barbequed chicken wings.

      She is a very good poet and had hundreds of them published, Jenny.


  6. stuartbramhall Says:

    Are you on probiotics? That and a low carbohydrate diet are the best prevention against Alzheimers.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Julia Lund Says:

    I love reading your reminiscences – you have such a gift for making time stand still for a few moments. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. kaytisweetlandrasmussen83 Says:

    The holidays seem to be a time of remembrance. Of quiet serious things of the past at odds with the noise and merriment going on around us. We all seem to be on the downward slope, but with a good sled we’ll make it to the bottom of the hill in good shape.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. kaytisweetlandrasmussen83 Says:

    We may be our own sled after all.


  10. shoreacres Says:

    Remembering and forgetting both have their place, I think. Christina Rossetti certainly found an elegant way to express that truth. She’s also the author of the lyrics of one of my favorite Christmas songs: “In the Bleak Midwinter.” Despite its title, it manages to be not at all bleak.

    I smiled at your descriptions of those early warm holidays. My first Christmas in Liberia, just a few degrees north of the equator, was equally startling. Even now, here on the Texas coast, I’m one of those who hopes for “Christmas weather.” Once, we got a whopping snow on Christmas eve, and that’s still known as the Christmas miracle. There was enough that I could build a little snowman, and down in Galveston, they built a big snowman holding a surfboard. It was wonderful.

    That comment about peanut butter and Alzheimer’s disease stopped me. I wonder what the linkage is. Why peanut butter, instead of peppermint, or fresh coffee? In any event, it seems that it is a valid way to confirm a diagnosis, though not diagnostic itself. I’ll just keep eating the stuff, and not worry about it. If i start forgetting names and phone numbers, I’ll have a sniff to check things out.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. bkpyett Says:

    What a lovely poem, Gerard. Death is a wonderful subject.
    Happy Christmas to you and I hope it isn’t too hot this year!


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