Jorge Luis Borges: “The Compass”

The Compass

All things are really only words
in a tongue of endless gobbledegook
that someone or something is writing in a book
that is the history of the world.  In herds,

you, I, everyone, Carthage, Rome travel,
and my unfathomable life too, and this stigma
of having been an accident, a cipher, an enigma,
of being all the unmelodious dialects of Babel.

But behind every name is what has no name.
Today, I felt its shadow flicker and take aim
in the blue compass needle, lucid and light,

that points far away across seas that gleam,
something like a timepiece glimpsed in a dream,
or the stirring of a bird in the middle of the night.

Jorge Luis Borges

Translated from Spanish by Paul Weinfield, © 2014

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