Jorge Luis Borges

Jorge Luis Borges Poems

If I could live again my life,
In the next - I'll try,
- to make more mistakes,
I won't try to be so perfect,

Through the course of generations
men brought the night into being.

Mirrors are not more silent
nor the creeping dawn more secretive;
in the moonlight, you are that panther
we catch sight of from afar.

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

Was there a Garden or was the Garden a dream?
Amid the fleeting light, I have slowed myself and queried,
Almost for consolation, if the bygone period


Oh destiny of Borges
to have sailed across the diverse seas of the world
or across that single and solitary sea of diverse

It opens, the gate to the garden
with the docility of a page

Free of memory and of hope,
limitless, abstract, almost future,
the dead man is not a dead man: he is death.
Like the God of the mystics,

When sorrow lays us low
for a second we are saved
by humble windfalls
of the mindfulness or memory:

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.

Dónde estarán los siglos, dónde el sueño
de espadas que los tártaros soñaron,
dónde los fuertes muros que allanaron,
dónde el Árbol de Adán y el otro Leño?

A tiger comes to mind. The twilight here
Exalts the vast and busy Library
And seems to set the bookshelves back in gloom;
Innocent, ruthless, bloodstained, sleek

We are the time. We are the famous
metaphor from Heraclitus the Obscure.

We are the water, not the hard diamond,

In these red labyrinths of London
I find that I have chosen
the strangest of all callings,
save that, in its way, any calling is strange.

Oh days devoted to the useless burden
of putting out of mind the biography
of a minor poet of the Southem Hemisphere,
to whom the fates or perhaps the stars have given

With lingering love she gazed at the dispersed
Colors of dusk. It pleased her utterly
To lose herself in the complex melody
Or in the cunous life to be found in verse.

At evening
they grow weary, the patio's two or three colours.

Jorge Luis Borges Biography

Jorge Francisco Isidoro Luis Borges Acevedo was an Argentine writer and poet born in Buenos Aires. In 1914, his family moved to Switzerland where he attended school and traveled to Spain. On his return to Argentina in 1921, Borges began publishing his poems and essays in Surrealist literary journals. He also worked as a librarian and public lecturer. Borges was bilingual, speaking both Spanish and English. He was a target of political persecution during the Peron regime. Due to a hereditary condition, Borges became blind in his late fifties. In 1955, he was appointed director of the National Public Library (Biblioteca Nacional) and professor of Literature at the University of Buenos Aires. In 1961, he came to international attention when he received the first International Publishers' Prize Prix Formentor. His work was translated and published widely in the United States and in Europe. He died in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1986. J. M. Coetzee said of Borges: "He, more than anyone, renovated the language of fiction and thus opened the way to a remarkable generation of Spanish American novelists." Early life and education Jorge Luis Borges was born to an educated middle-class family. Borges's mother, Leonor Acevedo Suárez, came from a traditional Uruguayan family. His 1929 book Cuaderno San Martín included a poem "Isidoro Acevedo," commemorating his maternal grandfather, Isidoro de Acevedo Laprida, a soldier of the Buenos Aires Army who stood against dictator Juan Manuel de Rosas. A descendant of the Argentine lawyer and politician Francisco Narciso de Laprida, Acevedo fought in the battles of Cepeda in 1859, Pavón in 1861, and Los Corrales in 1880. Isidoro de Acevedo Laprida died of pulmonary congestion in the house where his grandson Jorge Luis Borges was born. Borges's father, Jorge Guillermo Borges Haslam, was a lawyer and psychology teacher with literary aspirations. ("...he tried to become a writer and failed in the attempt," Borges once said, "... composed some very good sonnets"). His father was part Spanish, part Portuguese, and half English; his father's mother was English and maintained a strong spirit of English culture in Borges's home. In this home, both Spanish and English were spoken. From earliest childhood Borges was bilingual, reading Shakespeare in English at the age of 12. The family lived in a large house equipped with an extensive English library. They were in comfortable circumstances; but not being wealthy enough to live in downtown Buenos Aires, they resided in Palermo, then a poorer suburb of the city. His father was forced to give up practicing law due to the failing eyesight that would eventually afflict his son. In 1914, the family moved to Geneva, Switzerland. Borges senior was treated by a Geneva eye specialist, while his son and daughter Norah attended school, where Borges junior learned French and taught himself German. He received his baccalauréat from the Collège de Genève in 1918. The Borges family decided that, due to political unrest in Argentina, they would remain in Switzerland. This lasted until 1921 when, after World War I, the family spent three years living in various cities: Lugano (Switzerland), Barcelona, Majorca, Seville, and Madrid. At that time Borges discovered the writing of Arthur Schopenhauer and Gustav Meyrink's The Golem (1915) which were to become influential to his work. In Spain, Borges became a member of the avant-garde Ultraist literary movement (anti-Modernism, which ended in 1922 with the cessation of the journal Ultra). His first poem, "Hymn to the Sea", written in the style of Walt Whitman, was published in the magazine Grecia. While in Spain, he met noted Spanish writers, including Rafael Cansinos Assens and Ramón Gómez de la Serna. Early writing career In 1921, Borges returned with his family to Buenos Aires, where he imported the doctrine of Ultraism and launched his career, publishing surreal poems and essays in literary journals. In 1930, Nestor Ibarra called Borges the "Great Apostle of Criollismo." His first published collection of poetry was Fervor de Buenos Aires (1923). He contributed to the avant-garde review Martín Fierro (whose "art for art's sake" approach contrasted to that of the more politically involved Boedo group). Borges co-founded the journals Prisma, a broadsheet distributed largely by pasting copies to walls in Buenos Aires, and Proa. Later in life Borges regretted some of these early publications, and attempted to purchase all known copies to ensure their destruction. By the mid-1930s, he began to explore existential questions. He also worked in a style that Ana María Barrenechea has called "irreality." Borges was not alone in this task. Many other Latin American writers, such as Juan Rulfo, Juan José Arreola, and Alejo Carpentier, investigated these themes, influenced by the phenomenology of Husserl and Heidegger or the existentialism of Jean-Paul Sartre. Even though existentialism saw its apogee during the years of Borges's greatest artistic production, it can be argued that his choice of topics largely ignored existentialism's central tenets. To that point, critic Paul de Man wrote: "Whatever Borges's existential anxieties may be, they have little in common with Sartre's robustly prosaic view of literature, with the earnestness of Camus' moralism, or with the weighty profundity of German existential thought. Rather, they are the consistent expansion of a purely poetic consciousness to its furthest limits." From the first issue, Borges was a regular contributor to Sur, founded in 1931 by Victoria Ocampo. It was then Argentina's most important literary journal. Ocampo introduced Borges to Adolfo Bioy Casares, another well-known figure of Argentine literature, who was to become a frequent collaborator and dear friend. Together they wrote a number of works, some under the nom de plume H. Bustos Domecq, including a parody detective series and fantasy stories. During these years a family friend Macedonio Fernández became a major influence on Borges. The two would preside over discussions in cafés, country retreats, or Fernández' tiny apartment in the Balvanera district. In 1933 Borges gained an editorial appointment at the literary supplement of the newspaper Crítica, where he first published the pieces later collected as the Historia universal de la infamia (A Universal History of Infamy). This involved two types of pieces. The first lay somewhere between non-fictional essays and short stories, using fictional techniques to tell essentially true stories. The second consisted of literary forgeries, which Borges initially passed off as translations of passages from famous but seldom-read works. In the following years, he served as a literary adviser for the publishing house Emecé Editores and wrote weekly columns for El Hogar, which appeared from 1936 to 1939. In 1937, Borges found work as first assistant at the Miguel Cané branch of the Buenos Aires Municipal Library. His fellow employees forbade him from cataloguing more than 100 books per day, a task which took him about an hour. The rest of his time he spent in the basement of the library, writing articles and short stories. Borges's urbane character allowed him to free himself from the trap of local color. The varying genealogies of characters, settings, and themes in his stories, such as "La muerte y la brújula", used Argentine models without pandering to his readers. In his essay "El escritor argentino y la tradición", Borges notes that the very absence of camels in the Qu'ran was proof enough that it was an Arabian work. He suggested that only someone trying to write an "Arab" work would purposefully include a camel. He uses this example to illustrate how his dialogue with universal existential concerns was just as Argentine as writing about gauchos and tangos (subjects he himself used).)

The Best Poem Of Jorge Luis Borges


If I could live again my life,
In the next - I'll try,
- to make more mistakes,
I won't try to be so perfect,
I'll be more relaxed,
I'll be more full - than I am now,
In fact, I'll take fewer things seriously,
I'll be less hygenic,
I'll take more risks,
I'll take more trips,
I'll watch more sunsets,
I'll climb more mountains,
I'll swim more rivers,
I'll go to more places - I've never been,
I'll eat more ice creams and less (lime) beans,
I'll have more real problems - and less imaginary
I was one of those people who live
prudent and prolific lives -
each minute of his life,
Offcourse that I had moments of joy - but,
if I could go back I'll try to have only good moments,

If you don't know - thats what life is made of,
Don't lose the now!

I was one of those who never goes anywhere
without a thermometer,
without a hot-water bottle,
and without an umberella and without a parachute,

If I could live again - I will travel light,
If I could live again - I'll try to work bare feet
at the beginning of spring till
the end of autumn,
I'll ride more carts,
I'll watch more sunrises and play with more children,
If I have the life to live - but now I am 85,
- and I know that I am dying ...

Jorge Luis Borges Comments

April Krygowski 22 August 2007

What are lime beans? Lima, as in the cap of Peru? ? What's with the Spanish comments? I hope this site will remain in English. Does the one comment say that this was not written by Borges? If a comment is in another language, it would be helpful for a translation to be provided. Also is the THATS a typo or a poor translator?

13 27 Reply
Jessie Bernabe Cadsawan 19 August 2009

The Moment Where will they be the centuries, where the sleep of swords that the Tartar ones dreamed, where the strong walls that they levelled, where Adán's Tree and another Log? The present is alone. The memory it erects the time. Succession and trick it is the routine of the clock. The year it is not less vain than the vain history. Between the dawn and the night there is an abyss of agonies, of lights, of taken care; the face that looks in the worn-out ones the same is not mirrors of the night. The fleeting today is tenuous and it is eternal; another Sky do not wait, not another Hell. A clear vision of changes.

27 4 Reply
Fabrizio Frosini 04 January 2016

Jorge Luis Borges belonged to a notable Argentine family in Buenos Aires who had British ancestors. He learned English before he could speak Spanish. Literature was enrooted in him at an early age when he started reading books from his father’s library and decided to make a career in literature when he grew up. In 1914, Borges travelled to Geneva where he earned a B.A. degree from the Collge de Genve. He travelled more to Majorca and mainland Spain where he joined the Ultraist movement before returning to Buenos Aires in 1921. Upon discovering the beauty of his city with a newfound vision, Borges began writing poems in the city’s praise producing his first publication which was a volume of poems entitled Fervor de Buenos Aires, poemas (1923) . Not looking back, Borges published several more volumes of poems, essays and a biography Evaristo Carriego (1930) .

588 2 Reply
Fabrizio Frosini 04 January 2016

Borges then moved on to writing fiction publishing Historia universal de la infamia in 1935. In 1938, he was appointed at a key post in the Buenos Aires library where he would spend nine years, never happy or satisfied with the work he had to do. In 1978 Borges encountered a severe head injury which affected his speech. He lived for eight more years, losing the battle of life on June 14,1986 in Geneva, Switzerland. The eight years before his death proved to be the most productive in terms of Borges’ literary career. He wrote his best stories, later collected in Ficciones and a volume of English translations The Aleph and Other Stories (1933–69) . Borges also wrote some detective stories in collaboration with another writer under the pseudonym H. Bustos Domecq. The detective stories entitled 'Seis problemas para Don Isidro Parodi' were published in 1942.

588 3 Reply
Fabrizio Frosini 04 December 2015

Los Borges Nada o muy poco sé de mis mayores portugueses, los Borges: vaga gente que prosigue en mi carne, oscuramente, sus hábitos, rigores y temores. Tenues como si nunca hubieran sido y ajenos a los trámites del arte, indescifrablemente forman parte del tiempo, de la tierra y del olvido. Mejor así. Cumplida la faena, son Portugal, son la famosa gente que forzó las murallas del Oriente y se dio al mar y al otro mar de arena. Son el rey que en el místico desierto se perdió y el que jura que no ha muerto.

623 2 Reply
West Phalen 26 March 2013

Laberinto No habrá nunca una puerta. Estás adentro y el alcázar abarca el universo y no tiene ni anverso ni reverso ni externo muro ni secreto centro. No esperes que el rigor de tu camino que tercamente se birufca en otro, que tercamente se bifurca en otro, tendrá fin. Es de hierro tu destino como tu juez. No aguardes la embestida del toro que es un hombre y cuya extraña forma plural da horror a la maraña de interminable piedra entretejida. No existe. Nada esperes. Ni siquiera en el negro crepúsculo la fiera. JLB (Elogio de la sombra) .

15 1 Reply
Agustin Navarro 06 November 2011 favorite poem related to the enjoyment of life...the original Spanish version is superb! ! It is one of the best jewels of philosophical poetry...a wonderful and practical lesson for all... Agustin Navarro

16 3 Reply

Jorge Luis Borges Quotes

I cannot walk through the suburbs in the solitude of the night without thinking that the night pleases us because it suppresses idle details, just as our memory does.

Time is the substance from which I am made. Time is a river which carries me along, but I am the river; it is a tiger that devours me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire that consumes me, but I am the fire.

One concept corrupts and confuses the others. I am not speaking of the Evil whose limited sphere is ethics; I am speaking of the infinite.

There is a concept that is the corrupter and destroyer of all others. I speak not of Evil, whose limited empire is that of ethics; I speak of the infinite.

The flattery of posterity is not worth much more than contemporary flattery, which is worth nothing.

That one individual should awaken in another memories that belong to still a third is an obvious paradox.

The truth is that we live out our lives putting off all that can be put off; perhaps we all know deep down that we are immortal and that sooner or later all men will do and know all things.

Art always opts for the individual, the concrete; art is not Platonic.

Every writer "creates" his own precursors. His work modifies our conception of the past, as it will modify the future.

The fact is that all writers create their precursors. Their work modifies our conception of the past, just as it is bound to modify the future.

The central problem of novel-writing is causality.

In the course of a life devoted less to living than to reading, I have verified many times that literary intentions and theories are nothing more than stimuli and that the final work usually ignores or even contradicts them.

The exercise of letters is sometimes linked to the ambition to contruct an absolute book, a book of books that includes the others like a Platonic archetype, an object whose virtues are not diminished by the passage of time.

Universal history is the history of a few metaphors.

Perhaps universal history is the history of the diverse intonation of some metaphors.

Reading ... is an activity subsequent to writing: more resigned, more civil, more intellectual.

Life and death have been lacking in my life.

Life itself is a quotation.

In the order of literature, as in others, there is no act that is not the coronation of an infinite series of causes and the source of an infinite series of effects.

To fall in love is to create a religion that has a fallible god.

Imprecision is tolerable and verisimilar in literature, because we always tend towards it in life.

Like all writers, he measured the achievements of others by what they had accomplished, asking of them that they measure him by what he envisaged or planned.

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