Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986)

jorge-luis-borges

Portions
from El Otro, El Mismo (1964)
by Jorge Luis Borges

[translated by DK Fennell]

Among the streets that sink in the West,
There will be one (I don’t know which) that I’ve crossed
For the very last time, unconcerned
And without foreseeing it, acquiescing

To Him Who determines almighty rules
And a secret and inflexible standard
For the shades, the dreams, the shapes
Which unravel and weave this life.

If all things have an end and there is a stipulated portion
And last time and nothing more and oblivion,
Who will tell us to whom in this house,
Without knowing it, we have bid farewell?

Outside the pane already grey the night lets up,
And from the pile of books which casts
A deformed shade on the indistinct table,
There will be some which I will never read.

There is in the South more than one broken entrance gate
With cement vases
And prickly pears, which I am forbidden to enter
As if it were a lithograph.

You have forever closed some door
And there is a mirror which waits for you in vain;
The crossroads seem open to you
But Janus, four-faced, guards them.

There is, among all your memories, one
Which is lost, irretrievably.
You will not be seen descending to that fountain
By either the white sun or the yellow moon.

Your voice will never repeat what the Persian
In his tongue said of birds and roses,
When, at sunset, before the scattered light,
You wish to say unforgettable things.

And the uninterrupted Rhône and the lake,
All that yesterday on which today I incline?
It will be as lost as Carthage
Which with fire and salt the Latins wiped out.

At dawn I think I hear a busy
Mulling of crowds moving away;
They are those who loved and forgot me;
Space and time and Borges now leave me.

Borges

Limites
from El Otro, El Mismo (1964)
by Jorge Luis Borges

De estas calles que ahondan el poniente,
Una habrá (no sé cuál) que he recorrido
Ya por última vez, indiferente
Y sin adivinarlo, sometido

A Quién prefija omnipotentes normas
Y una secreta y rigida medida
A las sombras, los sueños y las formas
Que destejen y tejen esta vida.

Si para todo hay término y hay tasa
Y última vez y nunca más y olvido
¿Quién nos dirá de quién, en esta casa,
Sin saberlo, no hemos despedido?

Tras el cristal ya gris la noche cesa
Y del alto de libros que una trunca
Sombra dilata por la vaga mesa,
Alguno habrá que no leeremos nunca.

Hay en el Sur más de un portón gastado
Con sus jarrones de mampostería
Y tunas, que a mi paso está vedado
Como si fuera una litografía.

Para siempre cerraste alguna puera
Y hay un espejo que te aguarda en vano;
La encrucijada te parece abierta
Y la vigila, cuadrifronte, Jano.

Hay, entre todas tus memorias, una
Que se ha perdido irreparablemente;
No te verán bajar a aquella fuente
Ni el blanco sol ni la amarilla luna.

No volverá tu voz a lo que el persa
Dijo en su lengua de aves y de rosas,
Cuando al ocaso, ante la luz dispersa,
Quieras decir inolvidables cosas.

¿Y el incesante Ródano y el lago,
Todo ese ayer sobre el cual hoy me inclino?
Tan perdido estrá como Cartago
Que con fuego y con sal borró el latino.

Creo en el alba oír un atareado
Rumor de multitudes que se alejan;
Son lo que me ha querido y olvidado;
Espcio y tiempo y Borges ya me dejan.

936full-jorge-luis-borges

Poets previously published @ Awestruck Wanderer:

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Language will outlive us – By Joseph Brodsky (1940-1996)

Brodsky

“A poet always knows that what in the vernacular is called the voice of the Muse is, in reality, the dictate of language; that it’s not the language that happens to be his instrument, but that he is language’s mean toward the continuation of its existence. Language, however, even if one imagines it as a certain animate creature (which would only be just), is not capable of ethical choice.

A person sets out to write a poem for a variety of reasons: to win the heart of his beloved; to express his attitude toward the reality surrounding him, be it a landscape or a state; to capture his state of mind at a given instant; to leave – as he thinks at that moment – a trace on the earth. (…) Regardless of the reasons for which he takes up the pen, and regardless of the effect produced by what emerges from under that pen on his audience – however great or small it may be – the immediate consequence of this enterprise is the sensation of coming into direct contact with language, or more precisely, the sensation of immediately falling into dependence on it, on everything that has already been uttered, written, and accomplished in it.

The poet, I wish to repeat, is language’s means of existence – or, as my beloved Auden said, he is the one by whom it lives. I who write this lines will cease to be; so will you who read them. But the language in which they are written and in which you read them will remain, not merely because language is a more lasting thing than man, but because it is more capable of mutation.”

JOSEPH BRODSKY (1940-1996)

Russian poet and essayist

In: “On Grief and Reason”

* * * * *

Here’s one of my favorite Brodsky’s poems:

Song of Welcome

Here’s your Mom, here’s your Dad.
Welcome to being their flesh and blood.
Why do you look so sad?

Here’s your food, here’s your drink.
Also some thoughts, if you care to think.
Welcome to everything.

Here’s your practically clean slate.
Welcome to it, though it’s kind of late.
Welcome at any rate.

Here’s your paycheck, here’s your rent.
Money is nature’s fifth element.
Welcome to every cent.

Here’s your swarm and your huge beehive.
Welcome to that there’s roughly five
billion like you alive.

Welcome to the phone book that stars your name
Digits are democracy’s secret aim.
Welcome to your claim to fame.

Here’s your marriage, and here’s divorce.
Now that’s the order you can’t reverse.
Welcome to it; up yours.

Here’s your blade, here’s your wrist.
Welcome to playing your own terrorist;
call this your Middle East.

Here’s your mirror, your dental gleam.
Here’s an octopus in your dream.
Why do you try to scream?

Here’s your corn-cob, your TV set.
Your candidate suffering an upset.
Welcome to what he said.

Here’s your porch, see the cars pass by.
Here’s your shitting dog’s guilty eye.
Welcome to its alibi.

Here are your cicadas, then a chickadee,
the bulb’s dry tear in your lemon tea.
Welcome to infinity.

Here are your pills on the plastic tray,
Your disappointing, crisp X-ray.
You are welcome to pray.

Here’s your cemetery, a well kept glen.
Welcome to a voice that says, “Amen.”
The end of the rope, old man.

Here’s your will, and here’s a few
takers. Here’s an empty pew.
Here’s life after you.

And here are your stars which appear still keen
on shining as though you had never been.
They might have a point, old bean.

Here’s your afterlife, with no trace
of you, especially of your face.
Welcome, and call it space.

Welcome to where one cannot breathe.
This way, space resembles what’s underneath
and Saturn holds the wreath.

© 1994, Joseph Brodsky