Two English Poems
Jorge Luis Borges
The useless dawn finds me in a deserted streetcorner; I
have outlived the night.
Nights are proud waves: darkblue topheavy waves laden
with all hues of deep spoil, laden with things unlikely
Nights have a habit of mysterious gifts and refusals, of
things half given away, half withheld, of joys with a
dark hemisphere. Nights act that way, I tell you.
The surge, that night, left me the customary shreds and
odd ends: some hated friends to chat with, music for
dreams, and the smoking of bitter ashes. The things
my hungry heart has no use for.
The big wave brought you.
Words, any words, your laughter; and you so lazily and
incessantly beautiful. We talked and you have forgotten the words.
The shattering dawn finds me in a deserted street of my
Your profile turned away, the sounds that go to make your name, the lilt of your
laughter; these are illustrious
toys you have left me.
I turn them over in the dawn, I lose them, I find them; I tell them to the few stray dogs
and to the few stray
stars of the dawn.
Your dark rich life…
I must get at you, somehow: I put away those illustrious
toys you have left me, I want your hidden look, your
real smile -that lonely, mocking smile your cool mirror
What can I hold you with?
I offer you lean streets, desperate sunsets, the moon of
the jagged 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 bronze: my father’s father
killed in the frontier of Buenos Aires, two bullets
through his lungs, bearded an 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 vanished horses.
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 been loyal.
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
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 yourself.
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.