To A Minor Poet of the Greek Anthology

From Jorge Luis Borges:

Where now is the memory
Of the days that were yours on earth, and wove
Joy with sorrow; and made a universe that was your own?

The river of years has lost them
From its numbered current; you are a word in an index.
To others the gods gave glory that has no end:
Inscriptions, names on coins, monuments, conscientious historians;
All that we know of you, eclipsed friend,
Is that you heard the nightingale one evening.

Among the asphodels of the Shadow, your shade, in its vanity,
Must consider the gods ungenerous.

But the days are a web of small troubles,
And is there a greater blessing
Than to be the ash of which oblivion is made?

Above other heads the gods kindled
The inexorable light of glory, which peers
Into the secret parts and discovers each separate fault;
Glory, that at last shrivels the rose it reveres;
They were more considerate with you, brother.

In the rapt evening that will never become night
You listen without end to Theocritus’ nightingale.

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