Wednesday, June 12, 2013

To the Nightingale

As summer evenings start to wrap around us in dreamy sunsets and quiet buzzing, hear is one of my favorite poems. It is one I always think of when summer roles around, and I always turn to it whenever I need to think of something beautiful. I also love "Ode to a Nightingale" by the beloved Keats, but this is so gorgeous, and Borges is awesome.

Out of what secret English summer evening
or night on the incalculable Rhine,
lost among all the nights of my long night,
could it have come to my unknowing ear,
your song, encrusted with mythology,
nightingale of Virgil and the Persians?
Perhaps I never heard you, but my life
is bound up with your life, inseparably.
They symbol for you was a wandering spirit
in a book of enigmas. The poet, El Marino,
nicknamed you the "siren of the forest";
you sing throughout the night of Juliet
and through the intricate pages of the Latin
and from his pinewoods, Heine, that other
nightingale of Germany and Judea,
called you mockingbird, firebird, bird of mourning,
Keats hear your song for everyone, forever.
There is not one among the simmering names
people have given you across the earth
that does not seek to match your own music,
nightingale of the dark. The Muslim dreamed you
in the delirium of ecstasy,
his breast pierced by the thorn of the sung rose
you redden with your blood. Assiduously
in the black evening I contrive this poem,
nightingale of the sands and all the seas,
that in exultation, memory, and fable,
you burn with love and die in liquid song.

                     Jorge Luis Borges (Translated by Alastair Reid)

Photo by Nick Athanas

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