Matthew XXV: 30
by Jorge Luis Borges
- The first bridge, Constitution Station. At my feet
- the shunting trains trace iron labyrinths.
- Steam hisses up and up into the night,
- which becomes at a stroke the night of the Last Judgment.
- From the unseen horizon
- and from the very center of my being,
- an infinite voice pronounced these things--
- things, not words. This is my feeble translation,
- time-bound, of what was a single limitless Word:
- "Stars, bread, libraries of East and West,
- playing-cards, chessboards, galleries, skylights, cellars,
- a human body to walk with on the earth,
- fingernails, growing at nighttime and in death,
- shadows for forgetting, mirrors busily multiplying,
- cascades in music, gentlest of all time's shapes.
- Borders of Brazil, Uruguay, horses and mornings,
- a bronze weight, a copy of the Grettir Saga,
- algebra and fire, the charge at Junin in your blood,
- days more crowded than Balzac, scent of the honeysuckle,
- love and the imminence of love and intolerable remembering,
- dreams like buried treasure, generous luck,
- and memory itself, where a glance can make men dizzy --
- all this was given to you, and with it
- the ancient nourishment of heroes --
- treachery, defeat, humiliation.
- In vain have oceans been squandered on you,
- in vain the sun, wonderfully seen through Whitman's eyes.
- You have used up the years and they have used up you,
- and still, and still, you have not written the poem."
translated by Alastair Reid
- (Matthew XXV:30 reads " And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness:
there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.")
Return to Steve's Home Page