What is the summary of the poem "The Frog And The Nightingale" by Vikram Seth?

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schulzie eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A frog in Bingle Bog croaked his song at the base of a sumac tree. The other creatures hated his voice, but there was nothing they could do because no matter how they expressed their dislike, the frog just kept on singing.

One day a nightingale perched on the tree and sang a beautiful song. The creatures of the bog, including the frog, were delighted. They encouraged her with their applause to continue singing until the break of day.

The next night the frog approaches the nightingale and says that he owns the tree and has been singing there for a long time. She asks his opinion of her singing, and he tells her that it isn't bad,but it lacks strength. She is impressed with his criticism and tells him that it may not be the best, but it is her song.

The frog then tells her that he can train her and make her great.  She is thrilled that she has someone with so much knowledge and experience to guide her. However, the frog tells her that she will have to pay him for his services.  That night she sings, and the frog charges admission to the other creatures of the bog to listen to her.

The next morning it was raining, but the frog insisted the nightingale practice anyway.  He practiced with her for six hours and when he finished, she was exhausted and her voice was hoarse. However, her voice came back overnight, and the adoring crowd of creatures returned.

Even though he was making money off her songs by charging admission, the frog would scold her and tell her she needed to practice until her voice became strong because he was also charging her for his advice.

She wore herself out with the effort, and soon her song was no longer beautiful, and the creatures stayed away.  She became very sad because  she had grown to enjoy the applause and adoration of the other creatures.  She didn't enjoy singing alone anymore.

The frog got angry and told her she wasn't trying hard enough. She was terrified of failing, and so she tried one last time with all her heart to sing with strength.  She puffed up, burst a blood vessel, and died.

The frog told the others that he tried to help her,but she was stupid and too easily influenced by others. She should have known that your song must be personal and your own.  Then he took his position back at the base of the sumac tree and croaked out his song with all his strength, once again the only voice in the bog.

anilkumar619 | Student

The allegorical poem The Frog and the Nightingale by Vikram Seth conveys the thought that if you want to succeed you must have self confidence in your abilities even if you are exceptionally talented. It talks about how inspired and influenced by someone much unknown and strange is indeed a foolish work. There is a dominance of iambic meter with a regular rhyme scheme of aabb.The poem begins with the introduction of the frog's croaking. Instances of alliteration like 'awn and awn and awn' exemplify the unbearable behaviour of the frog who lived in the bog and boasted about himself. He was a frog full of ego and joy because of which he was undaunted by people's ways of persuasion to stop croaking. Nothing could diminish the determination with which he croaked, neither insults nor complaints.Next part of the poem introduces a nightingale and her melodious voice in the bog. She left the frog awestruck and gaping with wonder. She received a lot of compliments from everyone residing in the bog. Here we see the nightingale's flaw for the first time when she seems to be quite easily influenced by everybody's compliments and sings till dawn without pause. This weakness of her to be swayed away by what people said about her proved fatal.Angered by the praises she received the frog told the bird that he owned the sumac tree. When she asked reviews on her singing, the frog commented that it wasn’t bad but was too long and lacked force. Claiming himself to be the best singer in the Bog he asked the nightingale to take lessons from him. The nightingale agreed to this as she was already greatly overwhelmed that such a critic had discussed her song. This chapter also teaches us how innocence can be fatal. Many people in the human society also try to take advantage of the innocence or ignorance of the people. Thus, one should always be wise while judging the other. The frog misrepresented the entire fact saying that alone the bird would remain just a mere “beginner” while under his guidance she would become a “winner” for which he would charge her fees fairly modest.All this inspired the nightingale a great deal and extremely pleased with confidence she started singing for which the frog started charging money from the animals who flocked towards the bog from far and wide. The frog keeps tempting her more and she, flattered by applause, goes on dawn till dusk and beyond.The frog kept provoking her to sing more, even when the weather was unsuitable. Even after the denials of the nightingale the frog forced her to sing.All this royalty was observed and enjoyed by the frog with joy that was both sweet and bitter.Even after all this success, merely to subdue and torture the nightingale the frog kept scolding her on petty things and told her to practice more. He rebuked her for not earning good money, especially when she still owed him sixty shillings.She became pale and sorrowful, sleep deprived and uninspired. Her voice grew hoarse and she could sing no more. This infuriated the frog.At last, the frog's anger gains momentum till the point he tortures her to “puff out your lung with your passion.” This frightened the bird a lot and she trembled and puffed up till the point when she burst a vein and died. Even after her death, the attitude of the frog didn't change. He remained proud and rather rebuked the nightingale for being too nervous, stupid and prone to prone to influence. He emphasises on how "one's beauty is one's own"

lit24 | Student

The moral of Vikram Seth's allegorical poem "The Frog and the Nightingale" is that if you want to succeed you must have self confidence in your abilities even if you are exceptionally talented. Talent alone does not ensure success because a poor self image of yourself can be self destructive.

It's common knowledge that a frog's voice is the most cacophonous and  unmusical while the nightingale's is the most melodious. In this poem however, the frog thinks that its voice is the most melodious voice and it,

Croaked away in Bingle Bog
Every night from dusk to dawn.


Neither stones nor prayers nor sticks.
Insults or complaints or bricks
Stilled the frogs determination
To display his heart's elation.

However, as soon as a nightingale so obviously famous for its melodious voice arrives on the scene and begins entertaining the other animals the frog becomes jealous and decides to eliminate the nightingale.

He does this by subtly making the nightingale doubt its own abilities and even suggesting that it will train her!

Proper training such as I
- And few others can supply.
You'll remain a mere beginner.
But with me you'll be a winner.

The poor gullible bird is completely deceived and allows herself to be exploited by the pompous frog finally leading to her death:

Trembling, terrified to fail,
Blind with tears, the nightingale
Heard him out in silence, tried,
Puffed up, burst a vein, and died.

The moral of the poem is that the magic formula for success is self confidence.

nivarp | Student

The frog and the nightingale is a beautiful poem. The summary written is very impressive. It is said that one can lose his qualities by loosing confidence. The same thing happened with the nightingale also. Had nightingale been confident about her voice and quality of song, she would have been the succeeded the sumac tree. Her song quality was best but the frog that was highly confident and self motivated, dominated the nightingale and succeeded in his plan.
The moral of this poem should be kept in mind that in our day to day life we find many people who try to loose our self confidence and succeed in their plan. 
Especially in sports, self confidence is very much important for winning the match.
In Indian cricket team many times it is found that due to poor self confidence a good cricketer gets bold with zero runs and a cricketer like Kapil Deo wins world cup with his full of self-confidence and dedication.

The poem highlights the plight of those gullible and credulous people whose simplicity and goodness this cunning world doesn't care about.The cunning people use simple and innocent ones for their own benefit and then throw them out of their lives.This poem gives the message that gullible and innnocent people should have a watchful eyes on the mean and selfish (like frog) people and use the best of their wisdom to believe and judge people.