Summary: "This is just what I wanted. A history lecture." She buried her face in her hands.
Season: Season 10
Disclaimer: Creations of someone other than me.
A/N: I am not a professional historian, art, literature, or otherwise.
It was a rare instance, these days, that SG-1 didn't expect trouble; but they didn't expect trouble tonight, so Daniel took his turn on watch in relative tranquility, sitting on the ground and looking up at the clear sky. Somewhere nearby a bird sang. It was as unusual to find a night-singing bird off-world as it was on earth; Daniel found the sound both comforting and mesmerizing.
He heard footsteps from the camp behind him. "Vala? What's up?" he asked, watching as she draped herself onto the ground next to him.
"I can't sleep," she said, irritated. "That damn bird."
"Stands to reason," he said to himself, shrugging when she shot him a glare.
"It's bad enough that birds insist on singing so early in the morning; I can't stand a planet where they have to warble all night long."
"There's a bird on earth that sings at night; prosaically enough, it's called the nightingale, in English, anyway."
"I hate it already."
"It's actually the male nightingale that sings at night; specifically, the male nightingale seeking a mate. Interestingly, in many cultural traditions throughout history, the nightingale is symbolically paired with the rose–"
"This is just what I wanted. A history lecture." She buried her face in her hands.
"So the nightingale," he continued mercilessly, smiling at her groan, "is symbolically paired with the rose in the literary traditions of several earth cultures. There are actually several different rudimentary stories relating the two. It was particularly prevalent in Persia–"
She dropped her hands away from her face. "If you're doing this to cure my insomnia, Daniel, I'll be in your debt forever."
He cocked his head, and she rolled her eyes. "In Persia, Vala, where the rose and nightingale archetypically represent the beloved and the lover." Vala was silent now, and he turned his head to look back up at the sky. "The rose is a thing of unparalleled beauty; the nightingale is completely in her thrall. The sad thing for the nightingale is that the rose has thorns – she can't help herself, but she's born with the potential to cause great pain. It's more complicated than that, of course, you have to understand the religious and cultural context."
"Of course," Vala said softly.
"It's a Russian poem that I like best, though.
"Rose-maiden, no, I do not quarrel
With these dear chains, they don't demean;
The nightingale embushed in laurel,
The sylvan singers' feathered queen,
Does she not bear the same sweet plight,
Near the proud rose's beauty dwelling,
And with her tender anthems thrilling
The dusk of a voluptuous night.
"It's one of those things that are foreordained, you see, and the nightingale is wise enough not to fight it."
"It's beautiful," Vala said, her voice quiet and, in this rare moment, without affectation or pretense.
"Yes, it is. But most of the stories are at least a little sad." He met her eyes, briefly, but quickly turned away from the intensity of her gaze, uncomfortable, yet inexplicably moved, his glibness suddenly and unexpectedly gone.
The silence between them stretched out until it was broken again by the bird's song, and Daniel looked back to Vala, who was regarding him with her eyebrows raised.
"You say that to all the girls, don't you?"
"I'd never tell you if I did," he said, with a half-smile, as the bird sang on.
That poem's by Alexander Pushkin, by the way. The original was obviously in Russian, written in 1824. You can see this particular translation here: http://members. tripod. com /halonine /1824-26.htm#rose-maiden . It is most assuredly not my translation.