restricted access Jorge Luis Borges
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366 Spanish Jorge Luis Borges (1899–1986) Rose From Fervor de Buenos Aires O rose, Imperishable rose I do not sing, All density and fragrance, Rose of the black garden in deepest midnight, Or any garden on any given evening, Rose that is resurrected from delicate ashes By the art of alchemy, Rose of the Persians, Ariosto’s rose, Rose that is always one, alone, Always the rose of roses, The ageless Platonic flower, Ardent and blind, o rose I do not sing, Rose, unattainable. Buenos Aires From El otro, el mismo And now the city is like an unfolded plan of all my failures and humiliations; before this door I watched the sun go down so often, and waited in vain before this statue. Here the uncertain past and exacting present offered my thoughts the common circumstances of every kind of person, here my footsteps traced out a labyrinth, unforeseeable. Here the ashen evening waits and hopes for the outcome owed or promised by tomorrow; here my shadow in the no less hopeless evening shadows loses itself, but lightly. Jorge Luis Borges 367  If love binds us at all, it is by terror; and that is the explanation of desire. Emily Grosholz, 2011 Poem of the Gifts Let no one see self-pity or rebuke In this avowal of the mastery Of God, Who has, with consummate irony, Given me books and darkness at one stroke. Over this city of books He has, it seems, Given dominion to sightless eyes, that can Read only in the libraries of dreams The senseless paragraphs that every dawn Yields to their yearning. All in vain the day Lavishes on them its infinities Of books as rigorous as the codices That went up in smoke at Alexandria. From thirst and hunger (we learn from a Greek story) A king dies amid garden plots and fountains; I weaken aimlessly in the blind confines Of this profound and lofty library. The high stacks proffer in their vast detail Encyclopedias, atlases, dynasties Of East and West, symbols, cosmogonies, Eras and eons,—but to no avail. Haltingly, slowly in the vacant gloom, I explore these shadows with a cane for eyes, I, who always imagined Paradise Under the aspect of a reading-room. Something that certainly cannot be conveyed By the word hazard governs all these things; 368 Spanish Another man in other murky evenings Received the myriad volumes, and the shade. Pacing along the unhurried corridors I often feel with a kind of sacred dread That I am that other person who, now dead, Paced the same paces in the selfsame hours. Which of us two is writing out this verse Of a single shadow and a plural I? What matter my surname if it signify A singular and indivisible curse? Groussac or Borges, I contemplate this cherished World as it blazes up and changes shape And flickers out into a vague white ash That looks much like oblivion, or sleep. My Books My books (which do not know that I exist) Are as much a part of me as this visage With its grey hair at the temples and grey eyes That I look for vainly in glass surfaces And wonderingly run my curved hand over. And not without some logical bitterness It occurs to me that the essential words That most express me are not in my own writings But in those books that don’t know who I am. Better that way. The voices of the dead Will utter me forever. Simón Carbajal Antelo’s fields, 1890 or so, My father had charge of him. Perhaps they exchanged Jorge Luis Borges 369  A few sparing and long forgotten words. He remembered nothing of the man but this: The back of his dark-skinned left hand crisscrossed With scratches,—claw marks. Back then, on the ranch, Everyone worked out his own destiny: This one broke horses, that one was a wrangler, Another man could rope like nobody else— Simón Carbajal was the jaguar man. Whenever a jaguar preyed upon the sheepfold Or someone heard her growling in the darkness, Carbajal would track her into the mountains. He took a knife with him, and a few dogs. And when at last he closed with her in a thicket He would set the dogs on her. The tawny beast As like as not sprang suddenly on the man Shaking a poncho draped over his left arm, Both shield and a muleta. The white belly...


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