Five hundred years in the wake of the Hegira,
Persia looked down from its minarets
on the invasion of the desert lances,
and Attar of Nishapur gazed on a rose,
addressing it in words that had no sound,
as one who thinks rather than one who prays:
"Your fragile globe is in my hand; and time
is bending both of us, both unaware,
this afternoon, in a forgotten garden.
Your brittle shape is humid in the air.
The steady, tidal fullness of your fragrance
rises up to my old, declining face.
But I know you far longer than that child
who glimpsed you in the layers of a dream
or here, in this garden, once upon a morning.
The whiteness of the sun may well be yours
or the moon's gold, or else the crimson stain
on the hard sword-edge in the victory.
I am blind and I know nothing, but I see
there are more ways to go; and everything
is an infinity of things. You, you are music,
rivers, firmaments, palaces, and angels,
O endless rose, intimate, without limit,
which the Lord will finally show to my dead eyes."
Spanish; trans. Alastair Reid
Jorge Luis Borges, Spanish, trans. Alastair Reid, Selected Poems, ed. Alexander Coleman, Viking Penguin, 1999.