BORGES, IV, III, II, I

BORGES

One day, night will settle over everything
and joy and sorrow will be able to look each other
straight in the eye because mirrors will have ceased
setting us up against our vain reflections. The tiger,
even in the cage-bars’ shadow, will know that fame
that comes from books is null; that the pure gold was taken
from the folk-tale hero, and that he’s now gobbling down his prey
chilled but worthy in the wind of combat.
He who thought himself blind, timid, lacking
courage, descended into hell, married
Beatrice, and, baring his throat to the old razor-blade
of Time, face up to the other, that unknown double
behind the door, who made the roses bleed.

Translated by Marilyn Hacker

 

 

 

IV

It should have been on some island
she’d say often, an island that had lost its way
but still held its own against the wind,
one with numerous green trees

where one could lose oneself, forget oneself, get back
that face that looks only like itself, where the surprise
of being lasts, could know if the heart is still
in place, captain of the old ship.

Yes, it’s on an island, on an island
where, taking turns, we should have opened,
layer by layer, our only treasure, not

laid it out as we do here, amidst time’s peelings,
bet everything on dice tossed on the carpet
and then asked the ceiling then the next train leaves.

Translated by Marilyn Hacker

 

 

III

Don’t fool yourself, she said again, it isn’t only
my mouth, my breasts, not only my womb
that waits for you, to postpone for a day, an hour
the judgment of this absence crushing me

like an insect on the pane, no. There is, far
from the sea, with that beach where your waves
come, one after another, to give birth to wind.
There is, she says, there is

something faceless, voiceless: a field of snow
behind the hedge – winter has lasted there so long
that your suns, your glorious weekend

suns, were they ever to brush across it,
would melt instantly – and I’d be waiting
for you, alone and frozen beneath your touch.

Translated by Marilyn Hacker

 

 

II

I know, she would cry out, I know: telephones
don’t exist, it’s the end of the world everywhere,
people are flattened on the sidewalk,
they’re dying on their feet, behind you, in front of you

with no warning. There’s no one but cats left
capable of declining the noun love
at the edge on the cliff, and too bad for those
who rest in peace, a pity

for the inconsolable plain: always that wheat,
always that blue, and not the slightest grain
of mountain on the horizon, not the least

echo of you in this enormous desert,
not the briefest tremor on the line
like a voice to put the night to sleep.

Translated by Marilyn Hacker

 

 

I

If you’ve come to stay, she says, don’t speak.
The rain and the wind on the roof-tiles are enough
and the silence piled up on the furniture
like dust for centuries without you.

Don’t speak yet. Listen to what was
the knife in my flesh: each step, a far-off laugh,
some mongrel barking, the car door slamming
and the train which continues to pass and pass

over my bones. Keep still: there’s nothing to say.
Let the rain turn into rain again
and the wind be that tide beneath the roof-tiles, let

the cur cry his name into the night, the car door
slam, the stranger leave, in this null place
where I was dying. Stay if you’ve come to stay.

Translated by Marilyn Hacker

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