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  • October 15th, 2010 | 12:01 AM
Poetry Friday - Jorge Luis Borges


I've been thinking about my post the other day about claiming my poet self and went looking for a poem that might support that idea. This one by Jorge Luis Borges hit home for me.


BROWNING DECIDES TO BE A POET

In these red labyrinths of London
I find that I have chosen
the strangest of all callings,
save that, in its way, any calling is strange.
Like the alchemist
who sought the philosopher's stone
in quicksilver,
I shall make everyday words--
the gambler's marked cards, the common coin--
give off the magic that was their
when Thor was both the god and the din,
the thunderclap and the prayer.
In today's dialect
I shall say, in my fashion, eternal things:
I shall try to be worthy
of the great echo of Byron.
This dust that I am will be invulnerable.
If a woman shares my love
my verse will touch the tenth sphere of the concentric heavens;
if a woman turns my love aside
I will make of my sadness a music,
a full river to resound through time.
I shall live by forgetting myself.
I shall be the face I glimpse and forget,
I shall be Judas who takes on
the divine mission of being a betrayer,
I shall be Caliban in his bog,
I shall be a mercenary who dies
without fear and without faith,
I shall be Polycrates, who looks in awe
upon the seal returned by fate.
I will be the friend who hates me.
The persian will give me the nightingale, and Rome the sword.
Masks, agonies, resurrections
will weave and unweave my life,
and in time I shall be Robert Browning.

Jorge Luis Borges


Liz Scanlon is hosting the Poetry Friday Round-up today.
There are so many stories only you can tell.Tell them, please.



Comments

( 12 comments — Leave comment )
(Anonymous)
October 15th, 2010 11:05 am (UTC)
from Laura @AuthorAmok
Hi, Susan. What a powerful last line. Thanks for sharing this poem. I know Borges' fantasy stories, but not his poetry. Loved it!
susanwrites
October 15th, 2010 07:54 pm (UTC)
Re: from Laura @AuthorAmok
Thanks, Laura. It was a new one for me too.
mlyearofreading
October 15th, 2010 11:49 am (UTC)
"any calling is strange"

Yup. I'm feeling like that today! Like Frost had too much of apple picking, I have had too much of teaching (the part where you sit in a meeting all day and think about data and challenges and opportunities).
susanwrites
October 15th, 2010 07:55 pm (UTC)
Yes, a strange calling indeed. And sitting in meetings and playing with data isn't what we think of when we think of a teacher.

Looking forward to meeting you in person next weekend.
amygreenfield
October 15th, 2010 12:30 pm (UTC)
Wow. What a glorious way to write about a writer's inner life. Thank you so much for sharing this, Susan!
susanwrites
October 15th, 2010 07:55 pm (UTC)
You're welcome, Amy. I just felt like he captured it perfectly.
liz_scanlon
October 15th, 2010 01:01 pm (UTC)
Oh, my. I've never read this and I LOVE it. All those "I shalls..."
Hopes, intentions....
susanwrites
October 15th, 2010 07:56 pm (UTC)
It was new to me too, Liz but it just grabbed me.
(Anonymous)
October 16th, 2010 10:04 am (UTC)

That's wonderful, Susan. I was going to tell you what my favorite lines are, but I can't stop picking them!

Tabatha
cloudscome
October 17th, 2010 10:45 am (UTC)
this really grabbed me:
"In today's dialect
I shall say, in my fashion, eternal things:"

Wow!
(Anonymous)
October 18th, 2010 12:35 am (UTC)
Linda K. (Write Time)
"I shall make words everyday-" I love this line because I'm trying to do just that. It isn't easy with teaching and everything else life brings my way. Thanks for sharing this poem, Susan!
toby_speed
October 18th, 2010 03:26 pm (UTC)
Susan, thank you for this poem, with its powerful, confident voice. I like many of the lines, especially the last. "I will be the friend who hates me" is intriguing.
( 12 comments — Leave comment )
WHO AM I?



Who am I?I was born on the Cancer/Leo cusp and share a birthday with Ernest Hemingway and Robin Williams. The similarities don't stop there as I can go from depressed to ecstatic without ever passing go. I feel scared most of the time though my friends call me brave and I find it easier to believe in my friends than to believe in my own abilities to make what I want out of my life.

Who am I? A wife, a mother, a daughter, and even, gulp, a grandmother.

Who am I? A writer who never gets tired of playing with words, even when the words are hard to find. A writer of books for children and articles for grown-ups and many things in-between.

Who am I? A motivational speaker, writing instructor, workshop leader and full-time follower of dreams.

Who am I? Read and find out.






Susan Taylor Brown

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