How can it be that my favorite poem resides in a language I dimly understand? Was it context? I discovered it in the footnotes of a collection of non-fiction by Borges while in Buenos Aires at perhaps my darkest hour. For a Spanish language learner, it is the ideal poem. Simple. Deceptively simple. It’s an observation…a realization…when something profound appears right before your very eyes and you struggle to express it. The last time I read it was with another Uruguayan, a poet (of mathematics), Martín. The memory of this poem is a star that always falls. Here it is:
A few years ago, a moments discovery was made: the 1967 Charles W. Norton lectures of Jorge Luis Borges at Harvard University. These lectures are a delight, especially “A Poet’s Creed.” To listen to Borges is to feel for a brief moment what it is like to be someone who is possessed by a timeless and immortal memory. What makes a great scholar a wonder—and here I think about someone like Erich Auerbach or Carlo Ginsberg—is the fact that they seem to experience the past as if it were an eternal present. But listening to the final lecture, it occurred to me how aware Borges was of his memory and the predicament of modern literature.
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