The full text of Borges’ poem “Recoleta Cemetery”
Convinced of decrepitude
by so many noble certainties of dust,
we linger and lower our voices
among the rows of mausoleums,
whose rhetoric of shadow and marble
promises or prefigures the desirable
dignity of having died.
The tombs are beautiful,
the naked Latin and the engraved fatal dates,
the coming together of marble and flowers
and the little plazas cool as courtyards
and the many yesterdays of history
today stilled and unique
We mistake that peace for death
and we believe we long for our end
when that we long for is sleep and indifference.
Vibrant in swords and in passion
and asleep in the ivy,
only life exists.
Its forms are space and time,
they are magic instruments of the soul,
and when it is extinguished,
space, time, and death will be extinguished with it,
as the mirrors’ images wither
when evening covers them over
and the light dims.
Benign shade of the trees,
wind full of birds and undulating limbs,
souls dispersed into other souls,
it might be a miracle that they once stopped being,
an incomprehensible miracle,
although its imaginary repetition
slanders our days with horror.
I thought these things in the Recoleta,
in the place of my ashes.