COMPASS — a poem by Jorge Luis Borges

Every single thing becomes a word
in a language that Someone or Something, night and day,
writes down in a never-ending scribble,
which is the hiostory of the world, embracing

Rome, Carthage, you, me, everyone,
my life, which I do not understand, this anguish
of being enigma, accident, and puzzle,
and all the discordant languages of Babel.

Behind each name lies that which has no name.
Today I felt its nameless shadow tremble
in the blue clarity of the compass needle,

whose rule extends as far as the far seas,
something like a clock glimpsed in a dream
or a bird that stirs suddenly in its sleep.

(Translated by Alastair Reid)

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