Jorge Luis Borges HOME

Jorge Luis Borges


In all the world,
one man has been born,
one man has died.
To insist otherwise is nothing more than statistics,
an impossible extension.
No less impossible than bracketing
the smell of rain with your dream of two nights ago.
The man is Ulysses, Abel, Cain,
the first to make constellations of the stars,
to build the first pyramid,
the man who contrived the hexagrams of the Book of Changes,
the smith who engraved runes on the sword of Hengist,
Einar Tamberskelver the archer, Luis de León,
the bookseller who fathered Samuel Johnson,
Voltaire's gardener, Darwin aboard the Beagle,
a Jew in the death chamber,
and, in time, you and I.
One man alone has died at Troy,
at Metaurus, at Hastings, at Austerlitz,
at Trafalgar, at Gettysburg.
One man alone has died in hospitals,
in boats, in painful solitude,
in the rooms of habit and of love.
One man alone has looked on the enormity of dawn.
One man alone has felt on his tongue
the fresh quenching of water,
the flavor of fruit and of flesh.
I speak of the unique, the single man,
he who is always alone.
Translated from the Spanish by Alastair Reid


After some time, you learn the subtle difference between
holding a hand
and imprisoning a soul;
You learn that love does not equal sex,
and that company does not equal security,
and you start to learn….
That kisses are not contracts and gifts are not promises,
and you start to accept defeat with the head up high
and open eyes,
and you learn to build all roads on today,
because the terrain of tomorrow is too insecure for plans…
and the future has its own way of falling apart in half.

And you learn that if it’s too much
even the warmth of the sun can burn.

So you plant your own garden and embellish your own soul,
instead of waiting for someone to bring flowers to you.

And you learn that you can actually bear hardship,
that you are actually strong,
and you are actually worthy,
and you learn and learn…and so every day.

Over time you learn that being with someone
because they offer you a good future,
means that sooner or later you’ll want to return to your past.

Over time you comprehend that only who is capable
of loving you with your flaws, with no intention of changing you
can bring you all happiness.

Over time you learn that if you are with a person
only to accompany your own solitude,
irremediably you’ll end up wishing not to see them again.

Over time you learn that real friends are few
and whoever doesn’t fight for them, sooner or later,
will find himself surrounded only with false friendships.

Over time you learn that words spoken in moments of anger
continue hurting throughout a lifetime.

Over time you learn that everyone can apologize,
but forgiveness is an attribute solely of great souls.

Over time you comprehend that if you have hurt a friend harshly
it is very likely that your friendship will never be the same.

Over time you realize that despite being happy with your friends,
you cry for those you let go.

Over time you realize that every experience lived,
with each person, is unrepeatable.

Over time you realize that whoever humiliates
or scorns another human being, sooner or later
will suffer the same humiliations or scorn in tenfold.

Over time you learn to build your roads on today,
because the path of tomorrow doesn’t exist.

Over time you comprehend that rushing things or forcing them to happen
causes the finale to be different form expected.

Over time you realize that in fact the best was not the future,
but the moment you were living just that instant.

Over time you will see that even when you are happy with those around you,
you’ll yearn for those who walked away.

Over time you will learn to forgive or ask for forgiveness,
say you love, say you miss, say you need,
say you want to be friends, since before
a grave, it will no longer make sense.

But unfortunately, only over time…”

To the One Who is Reading Me

You are invulnerable.
Didn’t they deliver
(those forces that control your destiny)
the certainty of dust?
Couldn’t it be
your irreversible time
is that river
in whose bright mirror
Heraclitus read his brevity?
A marble slab is saved
for you, one you won’t read,
already graved
with city, epitaph, dates of the dead.
And other men are also dreams of time,
not hardened bronze, purified gold.
They’re dust like you;
the universe is Proteus.
Shadow, you’ll travel to what waits ahead,
the fatal shadow waiting at the rim.
Know this:
in some way you’re already dead.