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“Time Is Another River”

The Vermilion River

The Vermilion River

Here is a poem by Jorge Luis Borges called “The Art of Poetry”:

To gaze at a river made of time and water
And remember Time is another river
To know we stray like a river
And our faces vanish like water

To feel that waking is another dream
That dreams of not dreaming and that the death
We fear in our bones is the death
That every night we call a dream

To see in every day and year a symbol
Of all the days of man and his years
And convert the outrage of the years
Into a music, a sound, and a symbol

To see in death a dream, in the sunset
A golden sadness, such is poetry
Humble and immortal, poetry
Returning, like dawn and the sunset

Sometimes at evening there’s a face
That sees us from the deeps of a mirror
Art must be that sort of mirror
Disclosing to each of us his face

They say Ulysses, wearied of wonders
Wept with love on seeing Ithaca
Humble and green. Art is that Ithaca
A green eternity, not wonders

Art is endless like a river flowing
Passing, yet remaining, a mirror to the same
Inconstant Heraclitus, who is the same
And yet another, like the river flowing

2 thoughts on ““Time Is Another River”

  1. I first read this when I was doing a search on MacLeish’s Ars Poetica or Art of poetry. I think both have a similar resonance, in spite of the obvious differences.

    Thanks for reminding me of it.

  2. excellent Borges excerpt; brings back ChuangTze’s butterfly dream: when he awoke he couldn’t tell whether he was being dreamed by the butterfly or had just dreamed of the butterfly himself…

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