Tanta soledad, tanta, se me ahoga en el pecho.
Dios, se me muere en el pecho!!!!!!!!!!!
Two english poems
I offer you lean streets, desperate sunsets, the
moon of the ragged 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 marble:
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
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
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 your-
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.
¿Con qué podría retenerte?
Te ofrezco esbeltas calles, puestas de sol desesperadas, la luna de suburbios mal cortados.
Te ofrezco la amargura de un hombre que ha mirado largamente la luna solitaria.
ofrezco mis ancestros, mis muertos, los fantasmas que los vivos han
honrado con bronce: al padre de mi padre que murió en la frontera de
Buenos Aires con dos balas que atravesaron sus pulmones, barbado y
muerto, a quien amortajaron sus soldados con una piel de vaca; a ese
bisabuelo, de la línea materna, que comandó, con veinticuatro años, una
ofensiva de trescientos hombres en el Perú, ahora sólo fantasmas sobre
Te ofrezco, sea cual fuere, la sapiencia que contengan mis libros, y la hombría y el humor que contenga mi vida.
Te ofrezco la lealtad de un hombre que jamás ha sido leal.
ofrezco el núcleo duro de mí mismo que he guardado, de algún modo; el
corazón central que no comercia con palabras, no trafica con sueños, y
no tocan el tiempo ni el placer ni las adversidades.
Te ofrezco la memoria de una rosa amarilla vista al atardecer algunos años antes de que nacieras.
Te ofrezco explicaciones de vos misma, teorías de vos misma, auténticas y sorprendentes noticias de vos misma.
Te puedo dar mi soledad, mi oscuridad, el hambre de mi corazón; intento sobornarte con incertidumbre, con peligro, con derrota.
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
I was one of those people who live
prudent and prolific lives -
each minute of his life,
Of course 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 ...
Si pudiera vivir nuevamente mi vida,
en la próxima trataría de cometer más errores.
No intentaría ser tan perfecto, me relajaría más.
Sería más tonto de lo que he sido,
de hecho tomaría muy pocas cosas con seriedad.
Sería menos higiénico.
Correría más riesgos,
haría más viajes,
contemplaría más atardeceres,
subiría más montañas, nadaría más ríos.
Iría a más lugares adonde nunca he ido,
comería más helados y menos habas,
tendría más problemas reales y menos imaginarios.
Yo fui una de esas personas que vivió sensata
y prolíficamente cada minuto de su vida;
claro que tuve momentos de alegría.
Pero si pudiera volver atrás trataría
de tener solamente buenos momentos.
Por si no lo saben, de eso está hecha la vida,
sólo de momentos; no te pierdas el ahora.
Yo era uno de esos que nunca
iban a ninguna parte sin un termómetro,
una bolsa de agua caliente,
un paraguas y un paracaídas;
si pudiera volver a vivir, viajaría más liviano.
Si pudiera volver a vivir
comenzaría a andar descalzo a principios
de la primavera
y seguiría descalzo hasta concluir el otoño.
Daría más vueltas en calesita,
contemplaría más amaneceres,
y jugaría con más niños,
si tuviera otra vez vida por delante.
Pero ya ven, tengo 85 años…
y sé que me estoy muriendo.
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.
De estas calles que ahondan el poniente,
una habrá (no sé cuál) que he recorrido
ya por última vez, indiferente
y sin adivinarlo, sometido
a quien prefija omnipotentes normas
y una secreta y rígida medida
a las sombras, los sueños y las formas
que destejen y tejen esta vida.
Si para todo hay término y hay tasa
y última vez y nunca más y olvido
¿Quién nos dirá de quién, en esta casa,
sin saberlo, nos hemos despedido?
Tras el cristal ya gris la noche cesa
y del alto de libros que una trunca
sombra dilata por la vaga mesa,
alguno habrá que no leeremos nunca.
Hay en el Sur más de un portón gastado
con sus jarrones de mampostería
y tunas, que a mi paso está vedado
como si fuera una litografía.
Para siempre cerraste alguna puerta
y hay un espejo que te aguarda en vano;
la encrucijada te parece abierta
y la vigila, cuadrifonte, Jano.
Hay, entre todas tus memorias,
una que se ha perdido irreparablemente;
no te verán bajar a aquella fuente
ni el blanco sol ni la amarilla luna.
No volverá tu voz a lo que el persa
dijo en su lengua de aves y de rosas,
cuando al ocaso, ante la luz dispersa,
quieras decir inolvidables cosas.
¿Y el incesante Ródano y el lago,
todo ese ayer sobre el cual hoy me inclino?
Tan perdido estará como Cartago
que con fuego y con sal borró el latino.
Creo en el alba oír un atareado
rumor de multitudes que se alejan;
son los que me ha querido y olvidado;
espacio, tiempo y Borges ya me dejan.
No habrá nunca una puerta. Estás adentro
y el alcázar abarca el universo
y no tiene ni anverso ni reverso
ni externo muro ni secreto centro.
No esperes que el rigor de tu camino
que tercamente se bifurca en otro,
que tercamente se bifurca en otro,
tendrá fin. Es de hierro tu destino
como tu juez. No aguardes la embestida
del toro que es un hombre y cuya extraña
forma plural da horror a la maraña
de interminable piedra entretejida.
No existe. Nada esperes. Ni siquiera
en el negro crepúsculo la fiera.
Anticipation of Love
Neither the intimacy of your look, your brow fair as a feast day
not the favor of your body, still mysterious, reserved, and childlike,
nor what comes to me of your life, settling in words or silence
will be so mysterious a gift
as the sight of your sleep enfolded
in the vigil of my arms.
Virgin again, miraculously, by the absolving power of sleep.
quiet and luminous like some happy thing recovered by memory,
you will give up that shore of your life that you yourself do not own.
Cast up into silence
I shall discern that ultimate beach of your being
and see you for the first time, perhaps,
as God must see you—
the fiction of Time destroyed,
free from love, from me.
The Mirrors of Enigma
The idea that the Sacred Scriptures have (aside from their literal value)
a symbolic value is ancient and not irrational: it is found in Philo of
Alexandria, in the Cabalists, in Swedenborg. Since the events related in
the Scriptures are true (God is Truth, Truth cannot lie, etc.), we should
admit that men, in acting out those events, blindly represent a secret
drama determined and premeditated by God. Going from this to the thought
that the history of the universe — and in it our lives and the most
tenuous details of our lives — has an incalculable, symbolical value, is
a reasonable step. Many have taken that step; no one so astonishingly as
Léon Bloy. (In the psychological fragments by Novalis and in that
volume of Machen’s autobiography called The London Adventure there
is a similar hypothesis: that the outer world — forms, temperatures, the
moon — is a language we humans have forgotten or which we can scarcely
distinguish… It is also declared by De Quincey: ‘Even the articulate or
brutal sounds of the globe must be all so many languages and ciphers that
all have their corresponding keys — have their own grammar and syntax;
and thus the least things in the universe must be secret mirrors to the
A verse from St Paul (I Corinthians, 13:12) inspired Léon Bloy.
Videmus nunc per speculum in aegnigmate: tuc autem facie ad faciem.
Nunc cognosco ex parte: tunc autem cognoscam sicut et cognitus sum.
Torres Amat has miserably tranlated: ‘At present we do not see God except
as in a mirror and beneath dark images; but later we shall see him face
to face. I know him now imperfectly; but later I shall know him in a
clear vision, in the same way that I know myself.’ 49 words do the work
of 22; it is impossible to be more languid and verbose. Cipriano de Valra
is more faithful: ‘Now we see in a mirror, in darkness; but later we
shall see face to face. Now I know in part; but later I shall know as I
am known.’ Torres Amat opines that the verse refers to our vision of the
divinity; Cipriano de Valera (and Léon Bloy), to our general
vision of things.
So far as I know, Bloy never gave his conjecture a definitive form.
Throughout this fragmentary work (in which there abound, as everyone
knows, lamentations and insults) there are different versions and
facets. Here are a few that I have rescued from the clamorous
pages of Le mendiant ingrat, Le Vieux de la Montagne and
L’invendable. I do not believe I have exhausted them: I hope that
some specialist in Léon Bloy (I am not one) may complete and
The first is from June 1894. I translate it as follows: ‘The statement by
St Paul: Videmus nunc per speculum in aegnimate would be a
skylight through which one might submerge himself in the true Abyss,
whichis the soul of man. The terrifying immensity of the firmament’s
abyss is an illusion, an external reflection of our own abysses,
perceived "in a mirror." We should invert our eyes and practice a sublime
astronomy in the infinitude of our hearts, for which God was willing to
die…If we see the Milky Way, it is because it actually exists in our
The second is from November of the same year. ‘I recall one of my oldest
ideas. The Czar is the leader and spiritual father of a hundred and fifty
men. An atrocious responsibility that is only apparent. Perhaps he is not
responsible to God, but rahter to a few human beings. If the poor of his
empire are oppressed during his reign, if immense catastrophies result
from that reign, who knows if the servant charges with shining his boots
is not the real and sole person guilty? In the mysterious dispositions of
the Profundity, who is really Czar, who is king, who can boast of being a
The third is from a letter written in December. ‘Everything is a symbol,
even the most piercing pain. We are dreamers who shout in our sleep. We
do not know whether the things afflicting us are the sevret beginning of
our ulterior happiness or not. We now see, St Paul maintains, per
speculum in aenigmate, literally: "in an enigma by means of a mirror"
and we shall not see in any other way until the coming of the One who is
all in flames and who must teach us all things."
The fourth is from May 1904. ‘Per speculum in aenigmate, says St
Paul. We see everything backwards. When we believe we give, we receive,
etc. Then (a bleoved, anguished soul tells me) we are in Heaven and God
suffers on earth.’
The fifth is from May 1908. ‘A terrifying idea of Jeanne’s, about the
text Per speculum. The pleasures of this world would be the
torments of Hell, see backwards in a mirror.’
The sixth is from 1912. It is each of the pages of L’Âme de
Napoléon, a book whose purpose is to decipher the symbol
Napoleon, considered as the precursor of another hero — man and symbol
as well — who is hidden in the future. It is sufficient for me to cite
two passages. One: ‘Every man is on earth to symbolize something he is
ignorant of and to realize a particle or a mountain of the invisible
materials that will serve to build the City of God.’ The other: ‘There
is no human being on earth capable of declaring with certitude who he is.
No one knows what he has come into this world to do, what his acts
correspond to, his sentiments, his ideas, or what his real name is, his
enduring Name in the register of Light… History is an immense
liturgical text where the iotas and the dots are worth no less than the
entire verses or chapters, but the importance of one or the other is
indeterminable and profoundly hidden.’
The foregoing paragraphs will perhaps seemto the reader mere gratuities
by Bloy. So far as I know, he never took care to reason them out. I
venture to judge them verisimilar and perhaps inevitable in the Christian
doctrine. Bloy (I repeat) did no more than apply to the whole of Creation
the method which the Jewish Cabalists applied to the Scriptures. They
thought that a work dictated by the Holy Spirit was an absolute text: in
other words, a text in which the collaboration of a chance wa calculable
as zero. This portentous premise of a book impenetrable to contingency,
of a book which is a mechanism of infinite purposes, moved them to
permute the scriptural words, add up the numerical value of the letters,
consider their form, observe the small letters and capitals, seek
acrostics and anagrams, and perform other exegetical rigours which it is
not difficult to ridicule. Their excuse is that nothing can be contingent
in the work of an infinite mind. Léon Bloy postulates this
hieroglyphical character — this character of a divine writing, an
angelic cryptography — at all moments and in all beings on earth. The
superstitious person believes he can decipher this organic writing:
thirteen guests form the symbol of death; a yellow opal, that of
It is doubtful that the world has a meaning; it is even more doubtful
that it has a double or triple meaning, the unbleiever will observe. I
understand that the hieroglyphic world postulated by Léon Bloy
is the one which best befits the dignity of the theologian’s intellectual
No man knows who he is, affirmed Léon Bloy. No one could
illustrate that initmate ignorance better than he. He beleived himself a
rigorous Catholic and he was a continuer of the Cabalists, a secret
brother of Swedenborg and Blake: heresiarchs.
"…Debo fingir que hay
otros. Es mentira. Sólo tú eres.
Tú, mi desventura y mi ventura, inagotable y pura…"
JORGE LUIS BORGES (1899-1986)