Poem of the Week #20: The Art of Poetry (Borges)

On a related note to my ponderings below about the craft of writing

The Art of Poetry (Jorge Luis Borges)

To gaze at a river made of time and water
and remember Time is another river.
To know we stray like a river
and our faces vanish like water.

To feel that waking is another dream
that dreams of not dreaming and that the death
we fear in our bones is the death
that every night we call a dream.

To see in every day and year a symbol
of all the days of man and his years,
and convert the outrage of the years
into a music, a sound, and a symbol.

To see in death a dream, in the sunset
a golden sadnesssuch is poetry,
humble and immortal, poetry,
returning, like dawn and the sunset.

Sometimes at evening there’s a face
that sees us from the deeps of a mirror.
Art must be that sort of mirror,
disclosing to each of us his face.

They say Ulysses, wearied of wonders,
wept with love on seeing Ithaca,
humble and green. Art is that Ithaca,
a green eternity, not wonders.

Art is endless like a river flowing,
passing, yet remaining, a mirror to the same
inconstant Heraclitus, who is the same
and yet another, like the river flowing.

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3 Comments

Filed under Poem of the Week, Writing

3 responses to “Poem of the Week #20: The Art of Poetry (Borges)

  1. namelessneed

    thanx for sharing this. I had read it a hundred years ago. But, he’ll always keep on giving.

  2. Joe

    This is an interesting angle on Borges. He’s probably a better prose writer than poet, but this is nonetheless consummately Borgesian. Paradoxes, inconsistencies, recursion… very nice.

    “… poetry / humble and immortal …”

    It’s rare to find a “poem about poetry” that doesn’t utterly suck. Good choice, sir.

  3. zentimo

    Indeed, I was surprised by how damn good this poem is, since it is a) by a person better known for his prose and b) a poem about poetry, which as you say is usually a disaster.

    Then again, it is daft of me to be surprised by Borges doing something awesome – it’s kind of his thing.

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