Two English Poems by - Jorge Luis Borges



The useless dawn finds me in a deserted street-

corner;  I have outlived the night。

Nights are proud waves;  dark blue top heavy waves

laden with all the hues of deep spoil, laden with

things unlikely and desirable。

Nights have a habit of mysterious gifts and refusals,

of things half given away, half withheld,

of joys with a dark hemisphere。 Nights act

that way, I tell you。

The surge, that night, left me the customary shreds

and odd ends:  some hated friends to chat

with, music for dreams, and the smoking of

bitter ashes。 The things my hungry heart

has no use for。

The big wave brought you。

Words, any words, your laughter;  and you so lazily

and incessantly beautiful。 We talked and you

have forgotten the words。

The shattering dawn finds me in a deserted street

of my city。

Your profile turned away, the sounds that go to

make your name, the lilt of your laughter:

these are the illustrious toys you have left me。

I turn them over in the dawn, I lose them, I find

them;  I tell them to the few stray dogs and

to the few stray stars of the dawn。

Your dark rich life 。。。

I must get at you, somehow;  I put away those

illustrious toys you have left me, I want your

hidden look, your real smile -- that lonely,

mocking smile your cool mirror knows。




What can I hold you with?

I offer you lean streets, desperate sunsets, the

moon of the jagged suburbs。

I offer you the bitterness of a man who has looked

long and long at the lonely moon。

I offer you my ancestors, my dead men, the ghosts

that living men have honoured in bronze:

my father's father killed in the frontier of

Buenos Aires, two bullets through his lungs,

bearded and dead, wrapped by his soldiers in

the hide of a cow;  my mother's grandfather

--just twentyfour-- heading a charge of

three hundred men in Peru, now ghosts on

vanished horses。

I offer you whatever insight my books may hold,

whatever manliness or humour my life。

I offer you the loyalty of a man who has never

been loyal。

I offer you that kernel of myself that I have saved,

somehow --the central heart that deals not

in words, traffics not with dreams, and is

untouched by time, by joy, by adversities。

I offer you the memory of a yellow rose seen at

sunset, years before you were born。

I offer you explanations of yourself, theories about

yourself, authentic and surprising news of


I can give you my loneliness, my darkness, the

hunger of my heart;  I am trying to bribe you

with uncertainty, with danger, with defeat。


- Jorge Luis Borges (1934)

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