Somewhere far away a bittern cried, a hollow melancholy sound like a cow shut in a barn. The cry of that mysterious bird was heard every spring, but no one knew what it looked like or where it lived. At the top of the hill by the hospital, in the bushes by the pond, and in the nearby fields the nightingale trilled. The cuckoo kept reckoning someone's years and losing count and beginning again. In the pond the frogs called angrily to one another, straining themselves to bursting, and one could even make out the words: 'That's what you are! That's what you are!' What a noise there was! It seemed as if all these creatures were singing and shouting so that no one might sleep on that spring night, so that all, even the angry frogs, might appreciate and enjoy every minute: you only live once .
Oh, how lonely it was in the open country at night, in the midst of that singing when you cannot sing yourself; in the midst of the incessant cries of joy when you cannot yourself be joyful, when the moon, equally lonely, indifferent whether it is spring or winter, whether men are dead or alive, looks down .
This passage evidences nature's indifference to mankind, which is a common theme in Chekhov's stories. The author's descriptions of frogs calling to one another are humorously anthropomorphic, but they highlight the alienation of the natural from the manmade worlds. This quote reveals Chekhov's fascination with nature's strange noises: he describes the nightingales' "trilling" and other creatures "singing and shouting." Such seemingly inconsequential details imply that life will continue with or without mankind. In particular, the narrator's comment that the moon is "indifferent" to nature's "incessant cries of joy" suggests that while men and women lament and suffer, the natural world continues regardless.