From My Commonplace Book - 9

Sonnet for a Tango in the Twilight

by Jorge Luis Borges


Who was it said it all in a homegrown tango
Whose drawn-out, lovely sweetness made me pause
Under some unassuming little balconies
In that leafy neighborhood that isn't even yours?

All I know is that in its sorrow I saw a simple yard
Within whose earthen walls the whole sunset fit,
A place I'd glimpsed a few months ago in some slum,
And that I loved you more than ever, hearing it.

Caught in the music, I stayed there on the sidewalk
Facing the lonesome moon, the heart of the street,
In the relentless wind that came down driving the night.

That infinite tango pulled me toward everything.
Toward the fresh stars. Toward the chance of being a man.
And toward the clear memory my eyes keep seeking.


Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) seldom wrote about love in his short stories. This poem, translated from the Spanish by Stephen Kessler, appears in the recently published The Sonnets.

Borges began to go blind in his early thirties.

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