The nightingale is a frequent presence in Paradise Lost—not only as metaphor, but as part of the underlying music of Eden. Diverging from readings that focus on Milton’s identification with the bird, this article begins with his early poetry in order to examine his changing engagement with the nightingale and Philomela’s voice. It then shows how the nightingale becomes a symbol of violated nature in Paradise Lost rather than a representation of the poet himself. Milton’s evolving use of the nightingale speaks to both his poetic development and his great care for the natural world. Carefully listening to Milton’s nightingale offers new ways to understand the ecofeminist significance of her song—and, ultimately, her silence—in Paradise Lost.

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