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Best Famous Jorge Luis Borges Poems

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by Jorge Luis Borges | |

Elegy

 Oh destiny of Borges
to have sailed across the diverse seas of the world
or across that single and solitary sea of diverse
names,
to have been a part of Edinburgh, of Zurich, of the
two Cordobas,
of Colombia and of Texas,
to have returned at the end of changing generations
to the ancient lands of his forebears,
to Andalucia, to Portugal and to those counties
where the Saxon warred with the Dane and they
mixed their blood,
to have wandered through the red and tranquil
labyrinth of London,
to have grown old in so many mirrors,
to have sought in vain the marble gaze of the statues,
to have questioned lithographs, encyclopedias,
atlases,
to have seen the things that men see,
death, the sluggish dawn, the plains,
and the delicate stars,
and to have seen nothing, or almost nothing
except the face of a girl from Buenos Aires
a face that does not want you to remember it.
Oh destiny of Borges, perhaps no stranger than your own.


by Jorge Luis Borges | |

History Of The Night

 Throughout the course of the generations
men constructed the night.
At first she was blindness; thorns raking bare feet, fear of wolves.
We shall never know who forged the word for the interval of shadow dividing the two twilights; we shall never know in what age it came to mean the starry hours.
Others created the myth.
They made her the mother of the unruffled Fates that spin our destiny, they sacrificed black ewes to her, and the cock who crows his own death.
The Chaldeans assigned to her twelve houses; to Zeno, infinite words.
She took shape from Latin hexameters and the terror of Pascal.
Luis de Leon saw in her the homeland of his stricken soul.
Now we feel her to be inexhaustible like an ancient wine and no one can gaze on her without vertigo and time has charged her with eternity.
And to think that she wouldn't exist except for those fragile instruments, the eyes.


by Jorge Luis Borges | |

That One

 Oh days devoted to the useless burden
of putting out of mind the biography
of a minor poet of the Southem Hemisphere,
to whom the fates or perhaps the stars have given
a body which will leave behind no child,
and blindness, which is semi-darkness and jail,
and old age, which is the dawn of death,
and fame, which absolutely nobody deserves,
and the practice of weaving hendecasyllables,
and an old love of encyclopedias
and fine handmade maps and smooth ivory,
and an incurable nostalgia for the Latin,
and bits of memories of Edinburgh and Geneva
and the loss of memory of names and dates,
and the cult of the East, which the varied peoples
of the teeming East do not themselves share,
and evening trembling with hope or expectation,
and the disease of entymology,
and the iron of Anglo-Saxon syllables,
and the moon, that always catches us by surprise,
and that worse of all bad habits, Buenos Aires,
and the subtle flavor of water, the taste of grapes,
and chocolate, oh Mexican delicacy,
and a few coins and an old hourglass,
and that an evening, like so many others,
be given over to these lines of verse.


More great poems below...

by Jorge Luis Borges | |

Remorse For Any Death

 Free of memory and of hope,
limitless, abstract, almost future,
the dead man is not a dead man: he is death.
Like the God of the mystics, of Whom anything that could be said must be denied, the dead one, alien everywhere, is but the ruin and absence of the world.
We rob him of everything, we leave him not so much as a color or syllable: here, the courtyard which his eyes no longer see, there, the sidewalk where his hope lay in wait.
Even what we are thinking, he could be thinking; we have divvied up like thieves the booty of nights and days.


by Jorge Luis Borges | |

To A Cat

 Mirrors are not more silent
nor the creeping dawn more secretive;
in the moonlight, you are that panther
we catch sight of from afar.
By the inexplicable workings of a divine law, we look for you in vain; More remote, even, than the Ganges or the setting sun, yours is the solitude, yours the secret.
Your haunch allows the lingering caress of my hand.
You have accepted, since that long forgotten past, the love of the distrustful hand.
You belong to another time.
You are lord of a place bounded like a dream.


by Jorge Luis Borges | |

Browning Decides To Be A Poet

 in these red labyrinths of London
I find that I have chosen
the strangest of all callings,
save that, in its way, any calling is strange.
Like the alchemist who sought the philosopher's stone in quicksilver, I shall make everyday words-- the gambler's marked cards, the common coin-- give off the magic that was their when Thor was both the god and the din, the thunderclap and the prayer.
In today's dialect I shall say, in my fashion, eternal things: I shall try to be worthy of the great echo of Byron.
This dust that I am will be invulnerable.
If a woman shares my love my verse will touch the tenth sphere of the concentric heavens; if a woman turns my love aside I will make of my sadness a music, a full river to resound through time.
I shall live by forgetting myself.
I shall be the face I glimpse and forget, I shall be Judas who takes on the divine mission of being a betrayer, I shall be Caliban in his bog, I shall be a mercenary who dies without fear and without faith, I shall be Polycrates, who looks in awe upon the seal returned by fate.
I will be the friend who hates me.
The persian will give me the nightingale, and Rome the sword.
Masks, agonies, resurrections will weave and unweave my life, and in time I shall be Robert Browning.


by Jorge Luis Borges | |

Shinto

 When sorrow lays us low
for a second we are saved
by humble windfalls
of the mindfulness or memory:
the taste of a fruit, the taste of water,
that face given back to us by a dream,
the first jasmine of November,
the endless yearning of the compass,
a book we thought was lost,
the throb of a hexameter,
the slight key that opens a house to us,
the smell of a library, or of sandalwood,
the former name of a street,
the colors of a map,
an unforeseen etymology,
the smoothness of a filed fingernail,
the date we were looking for,
the twelve dark bell-strokes, tolling as we count,
a sudden physical pain.
Eight million Shinto deities travel secretly throughout the earth.
Those modest gods touch us-- touch us and move on.


by Jorge Luis Borges | |

Susana Soca

 With lingering love she gazed at the dispersed
Colors of dusk.
It pleased her utterly To lose herself in the complex melody Or in the cunous life to be found in verse.
lt was not the primal red but rather grays That spun the fine thread of her destiny, For the nicest distinctions and all spent In waverings, ambiguities, delays.
Lacking the nerve to tread this treacherous Labyrinth, she looked in on, whom without, The shapes, the turbulence, the striving rout, (Like the other lady of the looking glass.
) The gods that dwell too far away for prayer Abandoned her to the final tiger, Fire.


by Jorge Luis Borges | |

We are the time. We are the famous

 We are the time.
We are the famous metaphor from Heraclitus the Obscure.
We are the water, not the hard diamond, the one that is lost, not the one that stands still.
We are the river and we are that greek that looks himself into the river.
His reflection changes into the waters of the changing mirror, into the crystal that changes like the fire.
We are the vain predetermined river, in his travel to his sea.
The shadows have surrounded him.
Everything said goodbye to us, everything goes away.
Memory does not stamp his own coin.
However, there is something that stays however, there is something that bemoans.


by Jorge Luis Borges | |

The Art Of Poetry

 To gaze at a river made of time and water
And remember Time is another river.
To know we stray like a river and our faces vanish like water.
To feel that waking is another dream that dreams of not dreaming and that the death we fear in our bones is the death that every night we call a dream.
To see in every day and year a symbol of all the days of man and his years, and convert the outrage of the years into a music, a sound, and a symbol.
To see in death a dream, in the sunset a golden sadness--such is poetry, humble and immortal, poetry, returning, like dawn and the sunset.
Sometimes at evening there's a face that sees us from the deeps of a mirror.
Art must be that sort of mirror, disclosing to each of us his face.
They say Ulysses, wearied of wonders, wept with love on seeing Ithaca, humble and green.
Art is that Ithaca, a green eternity, not wonders.
Art is endless like a river flowing, passing, yet remaining, a mirror to the same inconstant Heraclitus, who is the same and yet another, like the river flowing.


by Jorge Luis Borges | |

Instants

 If I could live again my life,
In the next - I'll try,
- to make more mistakes,
I won't try to be so perfect,
I'll be more relaxed,
I'll be more full - than I am now,
In fact, I'll take fewer things seriously,
I'll be less hygenic,
I'll take more risks,
I'll take more trips,
I'll watch more sunsets,
I'll climb more mountains,
I'll swim more rivers,
I'll go to more places - I've never been,
I'll eat more ice creams and less (lime) beans,
I'll have more real problems - and less imaginary
 ones,
I was one of those people who live
 prudent and prolific lives -
 each minute of his life,
Offcourse that I had moments of joy - but,
 if I could go back I'll try to have only good moments,

If you don't know - thats what life is made of,
Don't lose the now!

I was one of those who never goes anywhere
 without a thermometer,
without a hot-water bottle,
 and without an umberella and without a parachute,

If I could live again - I will travel light,
If I could live again - I'll try to work bare feet
 at the beginning of spring till
 the end of autumn,
I'll ride more carts,
I'll watch more sunrises and play with more children,
If I have the life to live - but now I am 85,
 - and I know that I am dying .
.
.


by Jorge Luis Borges | |

Limits

 Of all the streets that blur in to the sunset,
There must be one (which, I am not sure)
That I by now have walked for the last time
Without guessing it, the pawn of that Someone

Who fixes in advance omnipotent laws,
Sets up a secret and unwavering scale
for all the shadows, dreams, and forms
Woven into the texture of this life.
If there is a limit to all things and a measure And a last time and nothing more and forgetfulness, Who will tell us to whom in this house We without knowing it have said farewell? Through the dawning window night withdraws And among the stacked books which throw Irregular shadows on the dim table, There must be one which I will never read.
There is in the South more than one worn gate, With its cement urns and planted cactus, Which is already forbidden to my entry, Inaccessible, as in a lithograph.
There is a door you have closed forever And some mirror is expecting you in vain; To you the crossroads seem wide open, Yet watching you, four-faced, is a Janus.
There is among all your memories one Which has now been lost beyond recall.
You will not be seen going down to that fountain Neither by white sun nor by yellow moon.
You will never recapture what the Persian Said in his language woven with birds and roses, When, in the sunset, before the light disperses, You wish to give words to unforgettable things.
And the steadily flowing Rhone and the lake, All that vast yesterday over which today I bend? They will be as lost as Carthage, Scourged by the Romans with fire and salt.
At dawn I seem to hear the turbulent Murmur of crowds milling and fading away; They are all I have been loved by, forgotten by; Space, time, and Borges now are leaving me.


by Jorge Luis Borges | |

Adam Cast Forth

 Was there a Garden or was the Garden a dream?
Amid the fleeting light, I have slowed myself and queried,
Almost for consolation, if the bygone period
Over which this Adam, wretched now, once reigned supreme,

Might not have been just a magical illusion
Of that God I dreamed.
Already it's imprecise In my memory, the clear Paradise, But I know it exists, in flower and profusion, Although not for me.
My punishment for life Is the stubborn earth with the incestuous strife Of Cains and Abels and their brood; I await no pardon.
Yet, it's much to have loved, to have known true joy, To have had -- if only for just one day -- The experience of touching the living Garden.


by Jorge Luis Borges | |

the Labirinth

The Labyrinth I

Zeus himself could not undo the web
of stone closing around me.
I have forgotten the men I was before; I follow the hated path of monotonous walls that is my destiny.
Severe galleries which curve in secret circles to the end of the years.
Parapets cracked by the days' usury.
In the pale dust I have discerned signs that frighten me.
In the concave evenings the air has carried a roar toward me, or the echo of a desolate howl.
I know there is an Other in the shadows, whose fate it is to wear out the long solitudes which weave and unweave this Hades and to long for my blood and devour my death.
Each of us seeks the other.
If only this were the final day of waiting.
The Labyrinth II There’ll never be a door.
You’re inside and the keep encompasses the world and has neither obverse nor reverse nor circling wall nor secret center.
Hope not that the straitness of your path that stubbornly branches off in two, and stubbornly branches off in two, will have an end.
Your fate is ironbound, as if your judge.
Forget the onslaught of the bull that is a man and whose strange and plural form haunts the tangle of unending interwoven stone.
He does not exist.
In the black dusk hope not even for the savage beast.