Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Aimless Reading: The B's, Part 31 (Jorge Luis Borges)

Selected Poems
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
Borges, Jorge Luis
Selected Poems

Purchased along with the other two books in the set, Collected Fictions and Selected Non-fictions, when they came out a few years ago. This volume has the advantage of being bi-lingual, and the translations are generally pretty good, though I am not nearly as big a fan of Borges the poet as I am of Borges the essayist and fiction writer. Here's the first poem in the book, translated by Stephen Kessler.

The Streets

My soul is in the streets
of Buenos Aires.
Not the greedy streets
jostling with crowds and traffic
but the neighborhood streets where nothing is happening,
almost invisible by force of habit
rendered eternal in the dim light of sunset
and the ones even further out
empty of comforting trees
where austere little houses scarcely venture
overwhelmed by deathless distances
losing themselves in the deep expanse
of sky and plain.
For the solitary one they are a promise
because thousands of singular souls inhabit them,
unique before God and in time
and no doubt precious.
Toward the West, the North and the South
unfold the streets – and they too are my country:
within in these lines I trace
may their flags fly.

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