Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986)
Here is an excellent Poetry Foundation bio of Borges this giant of writers, probably the most remarkable, readable and thoughtful author of the twentieth century. Borges recently has been returned to prominence by Jay Parini's superb inspirational and witty best selling memoir Borges and Me.
Then check out the following short animation nicely introducing the short Borges stories or Ficciones.
All things are really only words in a tongue of endless gobbledegook that someone or something is writing in a book that is the history of the world. In herds, you, I, everyone, Carthage, Rome travel, and my unfathomable life too, and this stigma of having been an accident, a cipher, an enigma, of being all the unmelodious dialects of Babel. But behind every name is what has no name. Today, I felt its shadow flicker and take aim in the blue compass needle, lucid and light, that points far away across seas that gleam, something like a timepiece glimpsed in a dream, or the stirring of a bird in the middle of the night.
Translated from Spanish by Paul Weinfield
Fragments from an Apocryphal Gospel – Jorge Luis Borges
Fragments from an Apocryphal Gospel
3. Wretched are the poor in spirit, for under the earth they will be as they are on earth.
4. Wretched is he who weeps, for he has the miserable habit of weeping.
5. Lucky are those who know that suffering is not a crown of heavenly bliss.
6. It is not enough to be last in order sometimes to be first.
7. Happy is he who does not insist on being right, for no one is or everyone is.
8. Happy is he who forgives others and who forgives himself.
9. Blessed are the meek, for they do not agree to disagree.
10. Blessed are those who do not hunger for justice, for they know that our fate, for better or worse, is the work of chance, which is past understanding.
11. Blessed are the merciful, for their happiness is in the act of mercy and not in the hope of reward.
12. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they see God.
13. Blessed are those who suffer persecution for a just cause, for justice matters more to them than their personal destiny.
14. No one is the salt of the earth; and no one, at some moment in their life, is not.
15. Let the light of one lamp be lit, even though no man see it. God will see it.
16. There is no commandment that cannot be broken, including the ones I give and those the prophets spoke.
17. He who kills for a just cause, or for a cause he believes just, is not guilty.
18. The acts of men are worthy of neither fire nor heaven.
19. Do not hate your enemy, for if you do, you are in some way his slave. Your hate will never be greater than your peace.
20. If your right hand should offend you, forgive it; you are your body and you are your soul and it is hard if not impossible to fix the boundary between them…
24. Do not make too much of the cult of truth; there is no man who at the end of a day has not lied, rightly, numerous times.
25. Do not swear, because every oath is bombast.
26. Resist evil, but without shock and without anger. Whoever strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other to him, as long as you are not moved by fear.
27. I do not speak of revenge nor of forgiveness; oblivion is the only revenge and the only forgiveness.
28. To do your enemy a good turn can be the work of justice and is not difficult; to love him, a job for angels and not men.
29. To do good for your enemy is the best way to gratify your vanity.
30. Do not accumulate gold on earth, for gold is the father of idleness, and it, of sadness and boredom.
31. Believe that others are just or will be, and if it proves untrue, it is not your fault.
32. God is more generous than men and will measure them by a different standard.
33. Give what is holy to dogs, cast your pearls before swine; the important thing is to give.
34. Seek for the pleasure of seeking, not of finding…
39. The door, not the man, is the one that chooses.
40. Do not judge the tree by its fruits nor the man by his works; they may be worse or better.
41. Nothing is built on stone, everything on sand, but our duty is to build as if sand were stone…
47. Happy are the poor without bitterness and the rich without pride.
48. Happy are the brave, who accept applause or defeat in the same spirit.
49. Happy are those who hold in memory words of Virgil or Christ, for these will brighten their days.
50. Happy are the loved and the lovers and those who can do without love.
51. Happy are the happy.
Borges also said: "Being an agnostic means all things are possible, even God, even the Holy Trinity. This world is so strange that anything may happen, or may not happen. Being an agnostic makes me live in a larger, a more fantastic kind of world, almost uncanny. It makes me more tolerant."
by Ed Coletti
I don’t know
the person who
you most need to impress
with the quality of your work
— Ed Coletti May 2012
Official Licensed Poet
I go to the hiring hall for poets
but a bouncer at the door demands to see my license.
“What license?” I ask.
Don’t play dumb, he says. No license, no entry.
“But I’m a poet,” I say.
Lemme ask, he says. You got poems in the New Yorker?
“No,” I say.
You got the MFA?
You got awards? Prizes?
“Just a bowling trophy,” I say. “How do I get a license?”
You got to take classes, conferences, workshops taught
by Official Poetry Teachers. Then, the license.
So: no hire, I’m illegit.
Oh well. The pay was shit.
I keep the day job. Go around the city. Open mics.
Reciting poems to small groups.
Out loud. For free.
The audiences, they never ask to see a license.
After the reading a few men, always men,
come up to me and say
I don’t really like poetry but I like your stuff.
Always, they call it stuff.
Women say they like it, too, but without
the disclaimer and they don’t call it stuff.
Face it, guys are uncomfortable with poetry.
I find a wise woman. She’s got the MFA,
the publications, the awards.
An Official Licensed Poet if ever there be.
She says, I met that same bouncer.
Everybody meets the bouncer.
She walks with me to the Hiring Hall.
The bouncer blocks the door.
With a quick move, martial art,
she flips the bouncer to the floor.
She says, A poet is a verb, not a noun.
A person writing a poem is a poet.
A person not writing a poem is something else.
You’ll find her poems in anthologies of Great Lit.
She says, By the way, the pay is still shit.
So listen, bouncer: I write stuff, therefore I am.
My license. Now scram.
- Joe Cottonwood
By day, Joe Cottonwood has worked as a carpenter, plumber, and electrician for most of his life. By night, he is the author of nine published novels, three books of poetry, and a memoir. He lives in the coastal mountains of California where he built a house and raised a family under (and at mercy of) giant redwood trees.
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