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Tag: Latin American Poetry

La Recoleta

Convinced of impermanence
by these noble declarations of dust,
we stop and quiet our voices
among the rows of mausoleums,
their rhetoric of shadow and marble
a promise of what we desire:
the dignity of death.
Beautiful are the graves,
the naked inscriptions and death dates,
the interplay of flowers and stone,
the courtyards, cool and reposed,
and the many yesterdays of the past
today fixed and unique.
We confuse this peace with death,
longing for the end,
when what we truly desire is sleep and indifference.
Vibrant in arms and in passions
and slumbering in the ivy,
only life exists.
Its forms are space and time,
magic instruments of the soul,
and when it ceases to exist,
space, time, and death will also cease,
just as the darkness of midnight
annihilates the mirror's simulacrum,
which the dusk had already begun to erode.
In the benign shade of the trees,
the wind alive with birds and rustling branches,
souls pass into other souls,
impossible that they should cease to be,
an incomprehensible miracle,
and yet its repetition
insults our days with horror.
Such were my thoughts in la Recoleta,
in the final place of my ashes.

Translated from the Spanish of Jorge Luis Borges.

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The Streets

The streets of Buenos Aires
run through my heart.
Not the greedy streets,
troubled by crowds and bustling drudgery,
but the indolent streets of the outer quarters,
nearly invisible now, as always, 
in the half-light of the gloaming,
and those even further out,
beyond the trees,
where only austere little houses dare venture,
overwhelmed by endless distances,
lost in the immense expanse
of sky and plains.
They offer a promise to the loner
for a thousand lonely souls live within them,
unique before the divine and in time
precious beyond question.
To the West, the North and the South
they unfold---another possible homeland---the streets:
may their colors fly
within the verses that I write.

Translated from the Spanish of Jorge Luis Borges.

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