Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Jorge Luis Borges - 17 Haiku

Borges in the Library
Borges in the Library
Jorge Luis Borges
17 Haiku

Translated by +James Honzik  *

I
It was something they told me,
the lateness of day, and the mountain.
I have already forgotten it.

II
The vast night
isn’t anything now
other than a trace.

III
Is this or isn’t this,
the dream that I forgot
before dawn,

IV
Silence the strings.
The music knows
how I feel.

V
Today I am not happy.
The almond trees
are your memories.

VI
In the darkness
books, films, and keys
follow my chance.

VII
Since that day
I have not moved the pieces
on the chess board.

VIII
In the desert
it is dawn.
Some one knows.

IX
The sheathed sword
dreams of battles.
I have other dreams.

X
This man has died.
His beard doesn’t know this
His fingernails still grow

XI
This is the hand
that once
touched your hair.

XII
Below the eaves
the mirror doesn’t reflect
anything more than the moon.

XIII
Below the moon
The shadow grows longer
alone.

XIV
Is that disappearing light
an empire,
or a firefly?

XV
The new moon.
Another look,
another door.

XVI
From far away you hear her song.
The nightingale doesn’t know
that she consoles you.

XVII
The old hand
still traces out lines
for the forgotten.


Borges' Diecisiete Haiku in Spanish.

*Notes on the translation. These are flawed and imperfect imitations of ideal form.  The original poems are from 1981 in La Cifra. 

"The fate of a writer is very strange. At the beginning he is Baroque: insolently Baroque; after long years he may attain, if the stars are auspicious, not simplicity, which is meaningless, but a shy and secret complexity.”

Jorge Luis Borges. 

I found the preceding quotation in the following interesting essay, written by Maria Kodama, Borges' widow.

 Oriental Influences on Borges' Poetry: The Nature of the Haiku and Western Literature.

I have also translated Borges' poem The Golem.

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