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.
Jorge Luis Borges, 1960
Translation by A. S. Kline