Friday, November 23, 2007

536. In Praise of Shadow (3) - Jorge Luis Borges

Translated from the Spanish by Anthony and Willis Barnstone

Old age (this is the name that others give it)
may be the time of our happiness.
The animal is dead or nearly dead.
Man and his soul remain.
I live among vague and luminous forms
that are not yet darkness.
Buenos Aires,
which once was torn into far suburbs
facing the endless plain,
is not the cemetery of the Recoleta, the Retiro square,
the dingy streets of the Eleventh district,
and the precarious old houses
that we still call the South.
Always there were too many things in my life;
Demokritos of Abdera tore out his eyes to think;
time has been by Demokritos.
This penumbra is slow and brings no pain;
it flows down a gentle slope
and resembles eternity.
My friends have no faces,
women are what they were so many years ago,
one street corner might be another,
there are no letters on the pages of books.
All this ought to unnerve me,
but it is a sweetness, a return.
From the generations of texts on the earth
I have read only a few,
the ones I keep reading in memory,
reading and distorting.
From the South, the East, the West, the North,
roads converge that have led me
to my secret center.
Those roads were echoes and footsteps,
women, men, agonies, resurrections,
days and nights,
half dreams and dreams,
every obscure instant of yesterday
and of the world's yesterdays,
the firm sword of the Dane and the moon of the Persian,
the deeds of the dead,
shared love, words,
Emerson and snow and so many things.
Now I can forget them. I reach my center,
my algebra and my key,
my mirror.
Soon I will know who I am.

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