Tuesday, May 07, 2013

TUESDAY POEM | Another Poem of the Gifts by Jorge Luis Borges

                        I want to give thanks to the divine 
                        Labyrinth of causes and effects 
                        For the diversity of beings 
                        That form this singular universe, 
                        For Reason, that will never give up its dream 
                        Of a map of the labyrinth, 
                        For Helen's face and the perseverence of Ulysses, 
                        For love, which lets us see others 
                        As God sees them, 
                        For the solid diamond and the flowing water, 
                        For Algebra, a palace of exact crystals, 
                        For the mystic coins of Angelus Silesius, 
                        For Schopenhauer, 
                        Who perhaps deciphered the universe, 
                        For the blazing of fire, 
                        That no man can look at without an ancient wonder, 
                        For mahogany, cedar, and sandalwood, 
                        For bread and salt, 
                        For the mystery of the rose 
                        That spends all its color and can not see it, 
                        For certain eves and days of 1955, 
                        For the hard riders who, on the plains, 
                        Drive on the catttle and the dawn, 
                        For mornings in Montevideo, 
                        For the art of friendship, 
                        For Socrates' last day, 
                        For the words spoken one twilight, 
                        For that dream of Islam that embraced 
                        A thousand nights and a night, 
                        For that other dream of Hell, 
                        Of the tower of cleansing fire 
                        And of the celestial spheres, 
                        For Swedenborg, 
                        Who talked with the angels in London streets 
                        For the secret and immemorial rivers 
                        That converge in me, 
                        For the language that, centuries ago, I spoke in Northumberland, 
                        For the sword and harp of the Saxons, 
                        For the sea, which is a shining desert 
                        And a secret code for things we do not know 
                        And an epitaph for the Norsemen, 
                        For the word music of England, 
                        For the word music of Germany, 
                        For gold, that shines in verses, 
                        For epic winter, 
                        For the title of a book I have not read: Gesta Dei per Francos, 
                        For Verlaine, innocent as the birds, 
                        For crystal prisms and bronze weights, 
                        For the tiger's stripes, 
                        For the high towers of San Francisco and Manhattan Island, 
                        For mornings in Texas, 
                        For that Sevillian who composed the Moral Epistle 
                        And whose name, as he would have wished, we do not know, 
                        For Seneca and Lucan, both of Cordova, 
                        Who, before there was Spanish, had written 
                        All Spanish literature, 
                        For gallant, noble, geometric chess, 
                        For Zeno's tortoise and Royce's map, 
                        For the medicinal smell of eucalyptus trees, 
                        For speech, which can be taken for wisdom, 
                        For forgetfulness, which annuls or modifies the past, 
                        For habits, 
                        Which repeat us and confirm us in our image like a mirror, 
                        For morning, that gives us the illusion of a new beginning, 
                        For night, its darkness and its astronomy, 
                        For the bravery and happiness of others, 
                        For my country, sensed in jasmine flowers 
                        For Whitman and Francis of Assisi, who already wrote this poem, 
                        For the fact that the poem is inexhaustible 
                        And becomes one with the sum of all created things 
                        And will never reach its last verse 
                        And varies according to its writers 
                        For Frances Haslam, who begged her children's pardon 
                        For dying so slowly, 
                        For the minutes that precede sleep, 
                        For sleep and death, 
                        Those two hidden treasures, 
                        For the intimate gifts I do not mention, 
                        For music, that mysterious form of time.

                        Jorge Luis Borges

                                        translated by Alan Dugan 

". . . Intelligence has little to do with poetry. Poetry springs from something deeper; it's beyond intelligence. It may not even be linked with wisdom. It's a thing of its own; it has a nature of its own. Undefinable. . . " (lines offered up from a penetrating conversation between Borges and Ronald Christ in The Paris Review)

This week's editor on the Tuesday Poem hub is Alicia Ponder with the poem Resilience by New Zealand TP poet Keith Westwater

It seems mathematics and alignments (or re-alignments) of various kinds are a theme this week.

You might also enjoy checking out our collaborative 3rd birthday poem - SCRATCH - a jazzy piece of improvisation with contributions from 18 of our 30 international poets. . .  

On the subject of collaborating with other writers, here's Borges in the same Paris Review article, ". . . Now, the queer thing is that when we write, and we write mostly humorous stuff—even if the stories are tragic, they are told in a humorous way, or they are told as if the teller hardly understood what he was saying—when we write together, what comes of the writing, if we are successful, and sometimes we are—why not? after all, I'm speaking in the plural, no?—when our writing is successful, then what comes out is something quite different from Bioy Casares's stuff and my stuff, even the jokes are different. So we have created between us a kind of third person; we have somehow begotten a third person that is quite unlike us. . . " Jorge Luis Borges. 

To read this week's Tuesday Poems, click on the quill then make your way down the list of poets on the Left-hand side of the TP page.  

Next week I hope to feature Phoenix-based poet and fellow blogger, Rachel van Blankenship with a spoken rendition of her - paradoxically, taut - poem Slack tide. We had the very wonderful pleasure of meeting (yes, for the first time) in Arizona last month and during the short, sweet time together made a recording of her poem. 

Gratitude for the diversity of beings 
That form this singular universe. . . 


  1. For dying so slowly. Love that.

    1. I love that, too, dbs. And these lines -

      For the sea, which is a shining desert
      And a secret code for things we do not know


      music, that mysterious form of time.

      and and

      Nice to see you here, dbs. I've been a bit of a hermit crab these past weeks (it may even be months?).

      All good things to you.