Jorge Luis Borges

Limits

Of all the streets that blur in to the sunset, There must be one (which, I am not sure) That I by now have walked for the last time Without guessing it, the pawn of that Someone Who fixes in advance omnipotent laws, Sets up a secret and unwavering scale for all the shadows, dreams, and forms Woven into the texture of this life. If there is a limit to all things and a measure And a last time and nothing more and forgetfulness, Who will tell us to whom in this house We without knowing it have said farewell? Through the dawning window night withdraws And among the stacked books which throw Irregular shadows on the dim table, There must be one which I will never read. There is in the South more than one worn gate, With its cement urns and planted cactus, Which is already forbidden to my entry, Inaccessible, as in a lithograph. There is a door you have closed forever And some mirror is expecting you in vain; To you the crossroads seem wide open, Yet watching you, four-faced, is a Janus. There is among all your memories one Which has now been lost beyond recall. You will not be seen going down to that fountain Neither by white sun nor by yellow moon. You will never recapture what the Persian Said in his language woven with birds and roses, When, in the sunset, before the light disperses, You wish to give words to unforgettable things. And the steadily flowing Rhone and the lake, All that vast yesterday over which today I bend? They will be as lost as Carthage, Scourged by the Romans with fire and salt. At dawn I seem to hear the turbulent Murmur of crowds milling and fading away; They are all I have been loved by, forgotten by; Space, time, and Borges now are leaving me. Version 2. Of these streets that deepen the sunset, There must be one (but which) that I’ve walked Already one last time, indifferently And without knowing it, submitting To One who sets up omnipotent laws And a secret and a rigid measure For the shadows, the dreams, and forms That work the warp and weft of this life. If all things have a limit and a value A last time nothing more and oblivion Who can say to whom in this house Unknowingly, we have said goodbye? Already through the grey glass night ebbs And among the stack of books that throws A broken shadow on the unlit table, There must be one I will never read. In the South there’s more than one worn gate With its masonry urns and prickly pear Where my entrance is forbidden As it were within a lithograph. Forever there’s a door you have closed, And a mirror that waits for you in vain; The crossroad seems wide open to you And there a four-faced Janus watches. There is, amongst your memories, one That has now been lost irreparably; You’ll not be seen to visit that well Under white sun or yellow moon. Your voice cannot recapture what the Persian Sang in his tongue of birds and roses, When at sunset, as the light disperses, You long to speak imperishable things. And the incessant Rhone and the lake, All that yesterday on which today I lean? They will be as lost as that Carthage The Romans erased with fire and salt. At dawn I seem to hear a turbulent Murmur of multitudes who slip away; All who have loved me and forgotten; Space, time and Borges now leaving me.