Jorge Luis Borges: “Shinto”


When sadness overwhelms us,
for a moment we are saved
by small adventures
of memory or attention:
the taste of fruit, the taste of water,
the face a dream gives back to us,
the early jasmines of November,
the endless yearning of a compass,
the book we thought we’d lost,
the pulse of a hexameter,
the little key that unlocks a house,
the smell of a library or sandalwood,
the archaic name of an avenue,
the colors of a map,
an unforeseen etymology,
the smoothness of a filed-down nail,
the date that we were looking for,
the count of twelve dark ringing bells,
the physical pain we didn’t expect.

There are eight million Shinto gods
who secretly travel this earth of ours.
These modest beings come to touch us.
They touch us.  Then they wander on.

Jorge Luis Borges

Translated from Spanish by Paul Weinfield, © 2013


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