Thursday, February 16, 2012


The FSG Book of Twentieth-Century Latin American Poetry has an exceptionally handsome dust jacket, I think. The layout on the inside is beautiful too, with wide margins around facing pages of Spanish text and English translation. Ilan Stavans proved as always to be an enlightened and creative editor.

Below is a short passage from Conjectural Poem by Jorge Luis Borges, translated by Alistair Reid. The anthology prints the whole narrative soliloquy in full. In the italicized epigraph, Borges explains the subject –

Francisco Laprida, assassinated on the 22 of September 1829 by the revolutionaries from Aldao, reflects before his death:

* * * * * * *

I who dreamed of being another man,
well-read, a man of judgment and opinion,
will lie in a swamp under an open sky;
but a secret and inexplicable joy
makes my heart leap. At last I come face to face
with my destiny as a South American.
The complicated labyrinth of steps
that I have traced since one day in my childhood
led me to this disastrous afternoon.
At last I have discovered
the long-hidden secret of my life,
the destiny of Francisco de Laprida,
the missing letter, the key, the perfect form
known only to God from the beginning.
In the mirror of this night I come across
my eternal face, unknown to me. The circle
is about to close. I wait for it to happen.

* * * * * * * *