The Nightingale and the Rose by Oscar Wilde

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BBC Radio 7, 4 April 2010
Read in sonorous tones by John Moffatt, this story told of a love-sick student looking in vain for a red rose to tempt his beloved. A nightingale took pity on him, and undertook the task on his behalf (unbeknownst to the student). After much trial and tribulation, the nightingale discovered that the only way to obtain a perfect red rose was to sing her little heart out, and thereby fill it with passion. She would inevitably die as a result, an arrow piercing her heart. This is precisely what happened, but the student finally obtained his rose. Sadly his romantic intentions remained unfulfilled; having presented the rose to his beloved, he discovered to his cost that she was more interested in material things such as jewellery. How could he expect to win her love with a mere rose! The student threw it into the street, where it was crushed by the wheels of a cart. Meanwhile the student gave up his suit altogether and consoled himself with a dusty book of metaphysics.
"The Nightingale and the Rose" is basically a story of sacrifice gone wrong. The nightingale shows a Christ-like desire to help the student, but the student fails either to understand her or to appreciate what she has done. Instead he falls victim to the capitalist desire for material things. With no religion to support him, he rejects life altogether in favour of books. Wilde does not hold out much hope for his future.
Written in the simple, direct style of a children's story, "The Nightingale and the Rose" nonetheless illuminates the destruction wrought by nineteenth century capitalism. The producer was Enyd Williams.

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