Jorge Luis Borges: To The Nightingale

07 November 2019

On what secret night in England
Or by the incalculable constant Rhine,
Lost among all the nights of my nights,
Carried to my unknowing ear
Your voice, burdened with mythology,
Nightingale of Virgil, of the Persians?
Perhaps I never heard you, yet my life
I bound to your life, inseparably.
A wandering spirit is your symbol
In a book of enigmas. El Marino
Named you the siren of the woods
And you sing through Juliet’s night
And in the intricate Latin pages
And from the pine-trees of that other,
Nightingale of Germany and Judea,
Heine, mocking, burning, mourning.
Keats heard you for all, everywhere.
There’s not one of the bright names
The people of the earth have given you
That does not yearn to match your music,
Nightingale of shadows. The Muslim
Dreamed you drunk with ecstasy
His breast trans-pierced by the thorn
Of the sung rose that you redden
With your last blood. Assiduously
I plot these lines in twilight emptiness,
Nightingale of the shores and seas,
Who in exaltation, memory and fable
Burn with love and die melodiously.

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