The Art Of Poetry

To gaze at a river made of time and water
And remember Time is another river.
To know we stray like a river
and our faces vanish like water.

To feel that waking is another dream
that dreams of not dreaming and that the death
we fear in our bones is the death
that every night we call a dream.

To see in every day and year a symbol
of all the days of man and his years,
and convert the outrage of the years
into a music, a sound, and a symbol.

To see in death a dream, in the sunset
a golden sadness--such is poetry,
humble and immortal, poetry,
returning, like dawn and the sunset.

Sometimes at evening there's a face
that sees us from the deeps of a mirror.
Art must be that sort of mirror,
disclosing to each of us his face.

They say Ulysses, wearied of wonders,
wept with love on seeing Ithaca,
humble and green. Art is that Ithaca,
a green eternity, not wonders.

Art is endless like a river flowing,
passing, yet remaining, a mirror to the same
inconstant Heraclitus, who is the same
and yet another, like the river flowing.

by Jorge Luis Borges

Comments (3)

Great definition for the poem Tom Armstrong, but let me tell you were wrong about one thing. Borges wrote this one in Spanish and it was translated to English later on by Anthony Kerrigan, you can see ' A personal Anthology' published in 1994. the Spanish language is also rich and extent in vocabulary if yo dont know i suggest you take some classes. there we have great Latin american poets who stated that theres no other language that offers freedom at writing than Spanish. Dont Exalct the english language please just because its the only language you know....
The depth and richness in his poetry comes from a personality nurtured and trained in artistic reflections.No doubt a lesson for the so-called poets who masturbate with words.
I see this is one of the poems Borges wrote in English. He thought English offered more opportunities for the poet because of its rich vocabulary. He uses it well. I note the juxtaposition of time and water, the face in the water vanishing as the water rushes to the sea. His predisposition to live the instant fully being more important than being enslaved in time, which is meaningless. Art captures the moments eternally. I love this poem.