Jorge Luis Borges


I'm dreaming of an ancient king. His crown
Is iron and his gaze is dead. There are
No faces like that now. And never far
His firm sword guards him, loyal like his hound.
I do not know if he is from Norway
Or Northumberland. But from the north, I know.
His tight red beard covers his chest. And no,
His blind gaze doesn't hurl a gaze my way.
From what extinguished mirror, from what ship
On seas that were his gambling wilderness
Could this man, gray and grave, venture a trip
Forcing on me his past and bitterness?
I know he dreams and judges me, is drawn
Erect. Day breaks up night. He hasn't gone.

                    Spanish; trans. Willis Barnstone

Jorge Luis Borges, Spanish, trans. Willis Barnstone, Selected Poems, ed. Alexander Coleman, Viking Penguin, 1999.