Friday, June 23, 2006

145. JUNE, 1968 - Jorge Luis Borges

(translated by Hoyt Rogers)

In the golden afternoon, or in
a serenity the gold of afternoon
might symbolize,
a man arranges books
on waiting shelves
and feels the parchment, the leather, the cloth,
and the pleasure bestowed
by looking forward to a habit
and establishing an order.
Here Stevenson and Andrew Lang, the other Scot,
will magically resume
their slow discussion
which seas and death cut short,
and surely Reyes will not be displased
by the closeness of Virgil.
(In a modest, silent way,
by ranging books on shelves
we ply the critic's art.)
The man is blind, and knows
he won't be able to decode
the handsome volumes he is handling,
and that they will never help him write
the book that will justify his life in others' eyes;
but in the afternoon that might be gold
he smiles at his curious fate
and feels that peculiar happiness
which comes from loved old things.