Jorge Luis Borges, “Alguien” from El Otro, el Mismo (“Someone” from The Other, the Self)
A man worn down by time;
a man who doesn’t even expect death
(the proofs of death are statistics
and there is no one who doesn’t run the risk
of being the first immortal);
a man who has learned to appreciate
the day’s meagre munificence:
sleep, routine, the taste of water,
an unsuspected etymology,
a Latin or Saxon verse,
the memory of a woman who left him
so many years ago
that today he can recall her without bitterness;
a man who doesn’t ignore that the present
is already the future and oblivion;
a man who has been disloyal
and to whom others have been disloyal;
he might feel suddenly, while crossing the street,
a mysterious happiness
born not of hope
but of an ancient innocence,
of his own root or of some diffused deity.
He knows that he shouldn’t look at it closely,
for there are reasons more terrible than tigers
which will prove to him his obligation
to be miserable,
but he humbly experiences
that happiness, that impulse.
Perhaps we’ll be forever in death,
when the dust is dust,
that indecipherable root,
from which will eternally blossom,
happy or horrible,
our solitary heaven or hell.
Insomniac passing anhypnic nights in writing, translation, music, mathematics, programming and whatever else captures my attention or alleviates agrypnia.
This consists mostly of quotations of things that stand out to me or reflect what's on my mind; occasionally I also post original, often more personal, content as well, which may be found under the "personal" tag. Anything posted under "translations" is also original work and may broadly be taken as personal as well as I seldom tackle a work that does not speak to or for me in some way.
A few nights ago I noted a small remark, one of the verses, from Borges’ “Fragments of an Apocryphal Gospel”:
“el olvido es la única venganza y el único perdón.”
“Oblivion is the only revenge, the only forgiveness.”
Yet elsewhere (“Everness”, from El Otro, el Mismo, 1964), the poet asserts:
“Sólo una cosa no hay. Es el olvido.”
“Only one thing doesn’t exist: oblivion.”
The latter precedes the former by five years; was the poet’s gospel making a subtle joke concerning the existence of revenge—and forgiveness?
“¡Ah, si en esa mañana hubiera olvido!”
—Borges, “El despertar” (El Otro, el Mismo).
Jorge Luis Borges, “Fragmentos de un evangelio apócrifo” (“Fragments of an Apocryphal Gospel”) from Elogio de la sombra / In Praise of Darkness (1969)
el olvido es la única venganza y el único perdón.
Oblivion is the only revenge, the only forgiveness.
Jorge Luis Borges, “El inmortal”
Como Cornelio Agrippa, soy dios, soy héroe, soy filósofo, soy demonio y soy mundo, lo cual es una fatigosa manera de decir que no soy.
Like Cornelius Agrippa, I am god, hero, philosopher, demon and I am world, which is a tedious way of saying that I do not exist.
Jorge Luis Borges, “Ragnarök”
Sacamos los pesados revólveres y alegremente dimos muerte a los Dioses.
We drew the heavy revolvers and happily killed the Gods.