The Hourglass :: J. L. Borges

It is well that time can be measured
With the harsh shadow a column in summer
Casts, or the water of that river
In which Heraclitus saw our folly,

Since both to time and destiny
The two seem alike: the unweighable daytime
Shadow, and the irrevocable course
Of water following its own path.

It is well, but time in the desert
Found another substance, smooth and heavy,
That seems to have been imagined
For measuring dead men’s time.

Hence the allegorical instrument
Of the dictionary illustrations,
The thing that gray antiquaries
Will consign to the red-ash world

Of the odd chess-bishop, of the sword
Defenseless, of the telescope bleared,
Of sandalwood eroded by opium,
Of dust, of hazard, of the nada.

Who has not paused before the severe
And sullen instrument accompanying
The scythe in the god’s right hand
Whose outlines Duerer etched?

Through the open apex the inverted cone
Lets the minute sand fall down,
Gradual gold that loosens itself and fills
The concave crystal of its universe.

There is a pleasure in watching the recondite
Sand that slides away and slopes
And, at the falling point, piles up
With an urgency wholly human.

The sand of the cycles is the same,
And infinite, the history of sand;
Thus, deep beneath your joys and pain
Unwoundable eternity is still the abyss.

Never is there a halt in the fall.
It is I lose blood, not the glass. The ceremony
Of drawing off the sand goes on forever
And with the sand our life is leaving us.

In the minutes of the sand I believe
I feel the cosmic time: the history
That memory locks up in its mirrors
Or that magic Lethe has dissolved.

The pillar of smoke and the pillar of fire,
Carthage and Rome and their crushing war,
Simon Magnus, the seven feet of earth
That the Saxon proffered the Norway king,

This tireless subtle thread of unnumbered
Sand degrades all down to loss.
I cannot save myself, a come-by-chance
Of time, being matter that is crumbling.

[From Dreamtigers, by Jorge Luis Borges, translated by Harold Morland]

680 Replies to “The Hourglass :: J. L. Borges”

  1. "And you supported that by supporting Obama. You have an amazing inability to see the connection between your own actions and what happens in the real world. Which means that even though you think you're a conservative, you're a lefty."Eh? I voted for Romney.

  2. Ser at du har sorte bilder over skapet. Hva med enkle sorte knotter????? …..eller sÃ¥ kan bruke de som var, dersom de er runde? Og sÃ¥ hekler du med bomullsgarn eller alpakka utenpÃ¥, I Feks en brun/ grÃ¥ farge, naturhvite eller sort?????? PÃ¥ bloggen min har jeg et bilde pÃ¥ høyre side av heklede knotter. Trykk pÃ¥ bildet:DDDDD Da har du knotter frem til du finner de du drømmer om. Klemz

  3. Hi Kathryn,So true. The characters become part of our daily lives. After publication I can only imagine it is like losing a pet.I need to try to get back into a second novel that I have begun, but am having trouble commiting to. This other one keeps coming back to me in one way or another.Somehow, someway I will be able to put it in its proper place. Today doesn’t seem to be that day, though. Ah well. There is always tomorrow. Thanks, I hope you have a good Thursday as well!

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  7. There is also an excellent case to be made that early Marxist-socialist thought was ripe with anti-semitism and approval for the genocide of certain unwanted masses.Hitler had embarked on his destructive policies in the 30’s and 40’s with the full knowledge that his actions were in strict accordance with traditional Marxist thinking.The reasons why many a Marxist and/or Socialist are surprised by such a claim, is that much of Marx’s original work and correspondances with other socialist thinkers of his day….is left unread.

  8. I was really worried when Farrakhan endorsed Obama. I thought it would certainly alienate some of his supporters. I think he handled the situation exactly the way he should have and so it goes. People always will have supporters they dont’ agree with.

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