Thursday, November 22, 2007

534. In Praise of the Shadow (1) - Jorge Luis Borge

(Elogio de la Sombra)

Old age (such is the name that others give it)
can become the time of our happiness.
The beast is dead, or dying.
The man and his soul remain,
alive, between images both bright and blurred,
those not yet hidden in shadow.
Buenos Aires,
which once hid itself away in outskirts, suburbs
now shows itself to be the Recoleta, the Retiro,
the muddy lanes of el Once,
and the precarious old houses
that we once called el Sur.
Throughout my life there were always things--too many--
Democritus of Abdera tore out his eyes so he could think;
time has been my Democritus.
The shadow is slow. It does not hurt;
it flows as if down a gentle slope.
Perhaps the shadow is eternity.
My friends no longer have faces,
the women, finally, can be what they became long ago,
street corners are strangers,
and there are no letters on the printed page.
All of this would frighten me
if it were not a sweet return.
From all the generations of books born on this earth,
I will only have known a few,
those which I continue reading in memory,
reading and transforming.
From the South, the East, the West, the North,
converge the paths which brought me
to my most secret self.
Those ways were echoes and steps,
women, men, agonies, resurrections,
days and nights,
waking-dreams and dreams,
every shrinking instant of yesterday
and the yesterdays of the world,
the resolute Danish sword and beckoning Persian moon,
the deeds of our ancestors,
the shared love, those words,
Emerson and the snow and so many other things.
Now I can forget them. I arrive at my inner self,
my algebra and my key,
my mirror.
Soon I will know who I am.

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