Walter de la Mare

King David

King David was a sorrowful man:

No cause for his sorrow had he;

And he called for the music of a hundred harps,

To ease his melancholy.

They played till they all fell silent:

Played—and play sweet did they;

But the sorrow that haunted the heart of King David

They could not charm away.

He rose; and in his garden

Walked by the moon alone,

A nightingale hidden in a cypress-tree

Jargoned on and on.

King David lifted his sad eyes

Into the dark-boughed tree—

'Tell me, thou little bird that singest,

Who taught my grief to thee?'

But the bird in no wise heeded

And the king in the cool of the moon

Hearkened to the nightingale's sorrowfulness,

Till all his own was gone.