Frog and the Nightingale Summary - Poem by Vikram Seth

The frog and the nightingale summary

Frog and the Nightingale Summary

In the Bingle bog, there lived a frog, under a sumac tree. It was notorious for its bad singing, in fact, everyone hated it for the noise it used to make all night. But despite what everyone said, it used to sing in the bog from dusk to dawn.
The other inhabitants of the bog tried their level best to discourage him, but to no avail. They tried everything - requests, stone pelting, sticks, insults - but the frog was adamant and continued to sing no matter what.
One night, before the frog could start his torture on the animals of the bog, a nightingale came and started singing in her melodious voice. Attracted by the melody of her voice, creatures of the bog came out to hear her, praised her heavily, and encouraged her to sing more. Even the frog was amazed by her beautiful voice. With the encouragement from the creatures of the bog, the nightingale sang all night. Next night, the jealous frog introduces himself as the owner of the sumac tree and tells the nightingale that he was a famous singer and sometimes also wrote for the bog trumpet magazine. Nightingale, naive, takes his words as truth and asks him about her singing.

The frog answers by saying that her singing was not bad but her voice lacked strength, something that can be put to rights with some training. When the Nightingale, impressed by the boastful frog, asks him to train her, the clever frog agrees hesitantly and asks for a price for his time. That night the nightingale sings and the frog charges the animals an admission fee. The next day, the frog makes her sing for 6 hours and that too in the rain and by the time he is done with her, she is tired with a hoarse voice. However, with some rest her voice revives, she sings melodiously and the creatures of the bog come again to hear her lovely voice. From the next day, under the frog’s bad training, Nightingale’s voice keeps on losing her charisma, and within a short span of time, she loses her audience too. With long training sessions, her tired voice fails to encapture and enrapture the animals of the bog and they start to keep their distance.
Saddened by the fact that she has lost her applauders, the Nightingale keeps up her singing but is further disheartened to see that now no one comes to hear her. She misses the applause and attention. The frog drums her mind with doubts by saying that she was not trying enough. The nightingale didn’t want to be a failure so she decides to give her 100% again. In her attempt to sing with strength, she puffs up and burst a blood vessel and dies. The frog tells everyone that the nightingale was a weak creature, he tried to help her but she was too easily influenced by others. He takes back his place under the sumac tree and croaks, regaining again its position as the only, undisputed, voice of the bog!