Note: in my rush to post this poem, my intended dedication got left off. Here it is anyway, belatedly but not diminished for that:
My final post of 2009 is dedicated to Wretchard, a man of integrity, possessed of a finely discerning and analytical intelligence.
Wretchard never stoops to mockery or meanness to make his point.
In him you will find that rare combination of genuine goodness and the willingness to look evil in the face and name it.
He has grasped his own mortality by the hand and bid it (a restrained) welcome.
Wretchard is one of the Twelve Just Men who are the pillars holding up the world. How fortunate we are to actually know one of them.
So we come to the end of a tumultuous year. Some of us are glad to see it go, others would like to hold on a bit because the future seems so unsure.
A few weeks ago this poem by Jorge Luis Borges popped up again. Despite some of the warmth of his images, the mood is somber and reflective. It fits well into a season of cold and uncertainty.
Thus armed, we shall look forward to whatever that is slouching towards us.
Perhaps one of our readers would be willing to supply the poem in its original Spanish?
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.
…As they must leave us all…
The wiki for Borges is here.