Let no fear be that in indecipherable night
I shall lose myself among the black flowers
Of the park, where the secret bird that sings
The same song over and over, the round pond,
And the summerhouse, and the indistinct
Statue and the hazardous ruin, weave
Their scheme of things propitious to the langour
Of afternoons and to nostalgic loves.
Hollow in the hollow shade, the coachhouse
Marks (I know) the tremulous confines
Of this world of dust and jasmine,
Pleasing to Verlaine, pleasing to Julio Herrera.
The eucalyptus trees bestow on the gloom
Their medicinal smell: that ancient smell
That, beyond all time and ambiguity
Of language, speaks of manorhouse time.
My footstep seeks and finds the hoped-for
Threshold. The flat roof there defines
Its darkened edge, and in measured time the tap
In the checkered patio slowly drips.
On the other side of the door they sleep,
Those who by means of dreams
In the visionary darkness are masters
Of the long yesterday and all things dead.
I know every single object of this old
Building: the flakes of mica
On that gray stone that doubles itself
Endlessly in the smudgy mirror
And the lion’s head that bites
A ring and the stained-glass windows
That reveal to a child wonders
Of a crimson world and another greener world.
For beyond all chance and death
They endure, each one with its history,
But all this is happening in that destiny
Of a fourth dimension, which is memory.
In that and there alone now still exist
The patios and the gardens. And the past
Holds them in that forbidden round
Embracing at one time vesper and dawn.
How could I lose that precise
Order of humble and beloved things,
As out of reach today as the roses
That Paradise gave to the first Adam?
The ancient amazement of the elegy
Loads me down when I think of that house
And I do not understand how time goes by,
I, who am time and blood and agony.
[From Dreamtigers, by Jorge Luis Borges, translated by Harold Morland]