Things That Might Have Been

Jorge Luis Borges

Jorge Luis Borges

It takes a massively creative mind to imagine not only what has been, but what has not been—though they might well have been! I love the poetry of the late Argentinean Jorge Luis Borges, who died in 1986. Blind for much of his adult life, Borges saw things few poets have seen. Although he wrote less as he aged, everything he wrote is precious.

Things That Might Have Been

I think of things that weren’t, but might have been.
The treatise on Saxon myths Bede never wrote.
The inconceivable work Dante might have had a glimpse of,
As soon as he’d corrected the Comedy’s last verse.
History without the afternoons of the Cross and the hemlock.
History without the face of Helen.
Man without the eyes that gave us the moon.
On Gettysburg’s three days, victory for the South.
The love we never shared.
The wide empire the Vikings chose not to found.
The world without the wheel or the rose.
The view John Donne held of Shakespeare.
The other horn of the Unicorn.
The fabled Irish bird that lights on two trees at once.
The child I never had.

In another of his poems, Borges imagines that Don Quixote never left his library, but imagined all his adventures based on the epics of chivalry he read there.

Read Borges, and before long you, too, will see the other horn of the unicorn.