January 20, 2005

Romantic Poetry

    "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 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
    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 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
    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."
- Jorge Luis Borges (1934)

Cynical and inured, yet this poem moves me. It is Love deconstructed, as I understand it.

5 Comments:

Blogger Juan Buhler said...

I

Ya no es magico el mundo. Te han dejado
Ya no compartiras la clara luna
ni los lentos jardines. Ya no hay una
luna que no sea espejo del pasado,
cristal de soledad, sol de agonias.
Adios las mutuas manos y las sienes
que acercaba el amor. Hoy solo tienes
la fiel memoria y los desiertos dias.
Nadie pierde (repites vanamente)
sino lo que no tiene y no ha tenido
nunca, pero no basta ser valiente
para aprender el arte del olvido.
Un simbolo, una rosa, te desgarra
y te puede matar una guitarra.

II

Ya no sere feliz. Tal vez no importa.
Hay tantas otras cosas en el mundo.
Un instante cualquiera es mas profundo
y diverso que el mar. La vida es corta
y aunque las horas son tan largas, una
oscura maravilla nos acecha,
la muerte, ese otro mar, esa otra flecha
que nos libra del sol y de la luna
y del amor. La dicha que me diste
y me quitaste debe ser borrada;
lo que era todo tiene que ser nada.
Solo me queda el goce de estar triste,
esa vana costumbre que me inclina
al Sur, a cierta puerta, a cierta esquina.

1964

11:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are comments working?

12:33 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

I read this a few times. I see a man relating his life and his legacy to his child. That's the true nature of great art written, verbal, or visual; to tell a story, yet allow the viewer to interpret it's meaning.


"How about a mountain goat with a pigeon on it's back?" Ha! That reads like something an art director or instructor would say. But you hit on an area of nature that's not my strong suit. I guess I'm not as inspired by animals as I am by the human form.

Thanks for the kind words.

4:37 PM  
Blogger Juan Buhler said...

Interesting angle. I see it as RR does, though: love deconstructed--and not filial, but romantic love.

You are right, leaving a little bit open to interpretation can be one of the characteristics of great art. Great art lets us see ourselves in it.

5:16 PM  
Blogger Rolling Red said...

Brian, thanks for instilling a doubt in my interpretation of the poem, it had me reading Borges biography. Borges was not a family man, he was a contrived intellectual filled with angst and insecurities (but what a brilliant mind!), as Edwin Williamson, a reviewer of published Borges biography notes:"Oh well. It's worth remembering that a writer's true life takes place at his desk, and the poor, paltry human being he may be away from it merely serves to provide him with material for his art." The point is, Borge's married for the first time at a very old age 69, if I am not mistaken. His 30's which is the time he wrote the poem, were consumed by overcoming an unrequited love.

8:41 PM  

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