The poem Frog and The Nightingale is one of the well-known poems from the collection of Vikram Seth. He is an Indian novelist and poet, who has published six poetry books and three novels. “A Suitable Boy” is one of his most acclaimed works of literature. The Frog and the Nightingale poem has been extracted from his anthology of poems ‘Beastly tales’. The main theme of this poem is the consequences of being driven by flattery. In The Frog and The Nightingale poem, the frog seems to be exploiting nightingale, just to earn fame and money. The frog claims to have quality, but ultimately he was a cunning capitalist that fed out of low self-esteem and vulnerable artists, leading to a disaster.
Once upon a time in Bingle Bog, a frog croaked under a sumac tree every night. He used to croak with his loud and obnoxious voice, every single night. All the other creatures flooded him with requests, sticks, stones, insults, brick-bats and complaints. Nothing could stop the frog as he was proud of its voice. The other creatures had no choice but to bear the noise.
One fine cold moonlight night, a nightingale perched on the sumac tree and sang with her sweet melodious voice. All the creatures were delighted to hear such a sweet song. The ducks swam and toads, herons, teals and tiddlers also reached there to listen to her song. They cheered and clapped and called her song ‘divine’.
The nightingale was so flattered by the admiration that she sang continuously throughout the night. This made the frog jealous. The night after that, the frog snootily introduced himself to the nightingale as the owner of the tree on which the bird was sitting. He claimed to have been known for his splendid baritone and famous for his deep manly voice. He also claimed to have written for the bog trumpet magazine occasionally.
When the nightingale asked the frog about how he liked her song, he praised the technique of the song. However, he added that the song was okay but too long and lacked a certain force. The nightingale felt privileged that such an enigmatic critic of art had given her tips to improve on her art. The frog reprimanded her for being pompous that her song was her own original composition. He also added that without formal training, she would simply remain a beginner of the art. The nightingale thought of the frog as the Mozart (a great musician) in masquerade and requested him to train her on the art of singing.
The frog agreed hesitantly and asked the nightingale to sing in rain in the name of ‘training’ for six hours. At last, her voice became hoarse and began shaking. At night, her throat revived. Triggered by art and exaltation, the nightingale tediously kept on singing. On becoming famous, a royal crowd of birds and animals from distant places flocked there and attended the concert in their fine dresses, to hear her melodious songs. Among the birds were many titled ones i.e. Owl of Sandwich, Duck of Kent, Mallard and Milady Trent, Martin Cardinal Mephisto and the Coot of Monte Cristo and ladies wearing tiaras. They twittered in the interval. The sly frog charged the fee for admission for the ‘concert’ and earned a lot from these gatherings.
The forced singing made her weak and pale due to exertion. This left a bad effect on her voice. Her voice was no longer sweet enough to attract the crowd. The infuriated frog said that she still owed him sixty shillings and asked the nightingale to puff her lungs to follow the fashion of the stage. The terrified bird burst her vein in exertion and died.
To escape the charge of killing the nightingale, the frog called her stupid, nervous and prone to be influenced by others. He said that she lacked confidence and the song must be one’s own like that of his. The frog once again claims to be the confident unmatched singer in the Bingle Bog.
So, this is The Frog and Nightingale explanation which vividly describes the story of the two creatures.
1. Throw some light on the character of the Frog in the poem?
Ans: The frog’s character is portrayed as entirely contrasting to that of the nightingale. The frog is known to be annoying, arrogant and scornful. He is immodest of a talent he does not have. He sings loudly in a harsh voice and disturbs all the other creatures. Even with repeated insults from the crowd, he does not stop. The frog is jealous of nightingale’s talent and popularity. He is greedy for money as he forces the poor nightingale to sing day and night without taking rest, killing her.
2. What are the positive and negative traits of the Nightingale?
Ans: The nightingale has a beautiful melodious voice, as mentioned in The Frog and Nightingale poem summary. When she sings for the first time, she impresses everyone immediately. Visitors from far off places come to listen to perceive her talent. However, she is not proud of all this at all. She is apprehensive and shy. She has low self-esteem and is unaware of her own talent. By believing strongly in the frog’s judgment, she makes a huge mistake. One must always accept criticism and try to develop, but not without a vigilant self-reflection. Response to flattery makes her burst her vain in the end and die.
3. What is the moral message of the Poem?
Ans: The moral of the story as given in The Frog and Nightingale explanation is that one must stick to one’s uniqueness. Reasoning and self-reflection is a virtue when it comes to judging one’s own talent. Being positively responsive to criticism is a very prestigious quality. However, one must not be instigated by flattery or it might be used against the individual. Letting others lead blindly makes oneself vulnerable in the age of capitalism. One should realize one’s precincts and capabilities and not leave oneself open for abuse. One should possess confidence in one's own talent.