History Of The Night

Through the course of generations
men brought the night into being.
In the beginning were blindness and dream
and thorns which gash the bare foot
and fear of wolves.
We shall never know who fashioned the word
for the interval of darkness
which divides the two half-lights.
We shall never know in what century it stood
for the starry spaces.
Others began the myth.
They made night mother of the tranquil Fates
who weave all destiny
and sacrificed black sheep to her
and the rooster which announced her end.
The Chaldeans gave her twelve houses;
infinite worlds, the Stoic Portico.
Latin hexameters molded her,
and Pascal’s dread.
Luis de León saw in her the homeland
of his shivering soul.
Now we feel her inexhaustible
as an old wine
and no one can think of her without vertigo,
and time has charged her with eternity.

And to think that night would not exist
without those tenuous instruments, the eyes.

(translated by Alastair Reid)

by Jorge Luis Borges

Other poems of BORGES (16)

Comments (15)

To be able to truly appreciate this poem, it is my opinion that one needs not only to train the eye, but also the soul. Borges achieves both the beauty of simplicity and complexity in this poem. Simplicity, because he used simple, easy-to-understand words. Complexity, because although the presentation may be simple, the poem displays a universe of varying meanings, where every re-reading may yield new meanings, new perspective. To enjoy this poem, the reader needs to approach it with absolute honesty and truthfulness, otherwise, the reader may be missing a real, rare gem.
i only liked the begining of it.
So there was night, and then a word for it. Borges does not get anywhere near a poetic expression of the transition between the wordless experience of night and the creation of a word for it. The constant references to knowledge which the reader may or may not have are both irritating and irrelevant. I repeat, a poem should contain all the information needed for an understanding of it. Whoever mentioned Shakespeare's neologisms as a response to my last comment is well off the track I beat thereby.
Words capture man's nature. Day and night created by, GOD, very simple. Then man through invention, adds to the simple beauty of GODS creation. Making his life more complex and trying by invention.
The night we know has beginning and end! But the night in the Universe is endless! The myths and the messages of night we all know from the poems of poets since long start from the first literary out put in the world. In this poem the poet touches of a few important aspects well!
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