I give you wings

A beautiful and bitter poem by Theognis, addressed to his beleaguered young lover Kurnos.

I give you wings. You’ll soon be lifted up
Across the land, across the boundless crests
Of ocean; where men dine and pass the cup,
You’ll light there, on the lips of all the guests,
Where lithe, appealing lads will praise you, swelling
Their song to match the piper’s sweet, shrill tone.
At length, my boy, you’ll enter Hades’ dwelling,
That black hole where departed spirits moan,
But even then your glory will not cease,
Your well-loved name will stay alive, unworn;
You’ll skim across the mainland, over Greece,
Over the islands and the sea, not borne
By horses, Kurnos; you’ll be whirled along
By violet-crowned maids, the Muses; yours
Will be each practiced singer’s finest song,
As long as light exists and earth endures.
I give you this, for what? To be reviled–
To be betrayed and lied to, like a child.

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