Sunday, July 02, 2006

reality is a word

"It is a general rule that novelists do not present a reality, but rather the memory of one. They may write about true or believable events, but these have been revised and arranged by recollection. (This process needless to say has nothing to do with the verb tenses they use) .... The "pure present" is no more than a psychological ideal - ... " JL Borges

Baltasar Gracian

Labyrinths, symbols, all the tricks of language,
a cold and over intricate nothingness -
that, for this Jesuit, was poetry,
reduced by him to verbal strategem.

He had no music in him, only a vain
herbal of metaphors and sophistries,
a worship of agility, and also
disdain for all things, human and superhuman.

He was not touched by the ancient voice of Homer
nor by the moon-and-silver tones of Virgil;
he did not see doomed Oedipus in exile,
nor Christ, dying on a wooden cross.

The bright stars gathered in the Eastern sky,
losing their brightness in the spread of dawn,
he nicknamed, in a questionable phrase,
"Chickens of the celestial countryside."

As ignorant of love of the divine
as of that other love that burns in bodies,
the Pale One started him one afternoon
as he was reading the poems of El Marino.

His later destiny is not recorded.
The dust that formed him finally delivered
to the corrosive changes of the tomb,
the soul of Gracian entered into glory.

What did he feel coming face to face
with all the Archetypes and Heavenly Hosts?
Perhaps he wept, and told himself "In vain
I fed myself on shadow and on errors."

What happened when at last the inexorable
Sun of God, the Truth, unveiled its fire?
Perhaps the light of Heaven left him blinded
there in the midst of that unending glory.

I have another ending. Lost in his trivia,
Gracian never even noticed Heaven
and keeps reworking in his memory
labyrinths, symbols, all the tricks of language.

Laberintos, retruecanos, emblemas,
Helada y laboriosa naderia,
Fue para este jesuita la poesia,
Reducida por el a estratgemas.

No Hubo musica en su alma; solo un vano
Herbario de metaphoras y argucias
Y la veneracion de las astucias
Y el desden de lo humano y sobrehumano.

No lo movio la antigua voz de Homero
Ni esa, de plata y luna, deVirgilio:
No vio al fatal Edipo en el exilio
Ni a Christo que se muere en un madero.

A las claras estrellas oriantales
Que palidecenen la vasta aurora,
Apodo con palabra pecadora
Callianas se los campos celestiales.

Tan ignoratnte del amor divino
Como del otro que en las bocas arde,
Lo sorprendio la palida una tarfe
Leyendo las estrofas del Mariano.

Su destion ulterior no esta en la historia;
Librado a las mudanzas de la impura
Tumba el polvo que ayer fue se figura,
El alma de Gracian entro en la gloria.

?Que habra sentido al contemplar de frente
Los Arquitipos y los Esplendores?
Quiza lloro y se dijo: Vanamente
Busque alimento en sombras y en errores.

?Que sucedio cuando el inexorble
Sol de Dios, La verdad, mostro su fuego?
Quiza la luz de Dios lo dejo ciego
En mitad de la gloria interminable.

Se de otra conclusion. Dado a sus temas
Minisculos, Gracian no vio la gloria
Y sigue resolviendo en la memoria
Labirentos, retruecanos y emblemas.


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