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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.


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.


( 12 comments — Leave comment )
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!
October 15th, 2010 07:54 pm (UTC)
Re: from Laura @AuthorAmok
Thanks, Laura. It was a new one for me too.
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).
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.
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!
October 15th, 2010 07:55 pm (UTC)
You're welcome, Amy. I just felt like he captured it perfectly.
October 15th, 2010 01:01 pm (UTC)
Oh, my. I've never read this and I LOVE it. All those "I shalls..."
Hopes, intentions....
October 15th, 2010 07:56 pm (UTC)
It was new to me too, Liz but it just grabbed me.
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!

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

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!
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?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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"Successful writers are not the ones who write the best sentences. They are the ones who keep writing. They are the ones who discover what is most important and strangest and most pleasurable in themselves, and keep believing in the value of their work, despite the difficulties."
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"Writers write about what obsesses them. You draw those cards. I lost my mother when I was 14. My daughter died at the age of 6. I lost my faith as a Catholic. When I'm writing, the darkness is always there. I go where the pain is."
--Anne Rice


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