Jorge Luis Borges

To the Nightingale

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.

Translations into English by A. S. Kline