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TO THE ONE READING ME / Jorge Luis Borges translated by Robert Mezey You are invulnerable. The very numbers That rule your fate, have they not given you The certitude of dust? Is not perhaps Your irreversible time that river's time In whose glass Heraditus saw the symbol Of his fleeting day? The headstone waits for you Which you wiU never read. On it already The date, the birthplace, and the epitaph. And others? They are also dreams of time, Not monuments of bronze or poUshed gold; The universe, Uke you, is Proteus. Shade, you will pass into the waiting shade Implacable at the end of your day's journey. Think,—in a way, you are already dead. The Missouri Review · 25 THE NIGHT THEY HELD A WAKE ON THE SOUTHSIDE / Jorge Luis Borges translated by Robert Mezey To Letizk Alvarez de Toledo At someone's demise —a mystery whose empty name I know, a reaüty we cannot take in— there is until dawn an open house on the Southside, an unknown house I am not meant to see again, that awaits me tonight with a wakeful lamp in the smaU hours, guttering down sleepless nights, stiU clear, diamonded with reaUty. Toward that wake with its mortal gravity I walk through streets as primal as memories, through the ample hours of the night with no more noise of Ufe than the murmur of shadowy men around a darkened store and someone whistUng alone in the universe. Walking at leisure, rich in expectancy, I arrive at the street, at the house, at the unassuming door I am looking for and dutifuUy somber men show me in, men who have shared the springtime of my elders, and our destinies converge in a Uved-in room that looks out on the patio —the patio under the power and indeed a part of the night— and reaUty being too much, we say meaningless things and we are spiritless and argentine in the mirror and the shared maté measures out the empty hours. I am moved by the commonplace wisdoms that vanish with every last breath 26 · The Missouri Review —the habit of a few books, of a key, of a body among bodies—. I know that every privilege, however obscure, partakes of miracle and how great the privUege of being at this wake, gathered around that which is unknown: the dead man, gathered around to escort him and watch over his first night in death. (This dead party drains our faces; our eyes glaze over Uke Jesus on the heights.) And the dead man, the unbeUevable? The fact of him Ues under flowers quite different from him and his mortal welcome gives us one more memory to carry into time and eloquent Southside streets to deserve Uttle by Uttle and a dark breeze that blows once again on our foreheads and night, that frees us from the greatest anguish: the tedious profusion of the real. Jorge Luis Borges The Missouri Review · 27 THE OTHER TIGER /Jorge Luis Borges translated by Robert Mezey And the craft that createth a semblance Morris: "Sigurd the Volsung" (1876) I think about a tiger. TwUight exalts The vast and never-resting Ubrary And seems to make the shelves of books recede; Powerful, innocent, new-made, stained with blood, He wiU move through his rainforest and morning, WUl leave his spoor upon the muddy bank Of a river whose name must be unknown to him (In his world there are neither names nor past Nor future, only an eternal present.) And he wiU cover inhuman distances And sniff out in the winding labyrinth Of odors the true odor of the dawn And the delectable odor of a deer. Among the bamboo's sunstripes I make out The motion of his stripes and have a sense Of bone beneath the dazzle of rippUng hide. In vain the swelling seas, the mountain ranges, The deserts of the planet come between us. From this house in a somnolent, remote South American port, I seek you, dreaming, Oh tiger of the far banks of the Ganges. Evening spreads in my soul and I reflect That the apostrophized tiger of my poem Is a...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9930
Print ISSN
0191-1961
Pages
pp. 25-32
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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