Abramowicz

 

Jorge Luis Borges

 

Tonight, not far from the top of the hill of Saint Pierre, a courageous and happy Greek music has just revealed to us that death is more implausible than life and that, therefore, the soul survives when its body is chaos. This means that María Kodama, Isabelle Monet and I are not three, as we mistakenly believed. We are four, because you are also with us, Maurice. With red wine we have toasted your health. Your voice wasn’t necessary, not the touch of your hand, nor your memory. You were there, silent and no doubt smiling when you perceived that we were amazed and marveled at the notorious fact that no one can die. You were there, at our side, and with you the throngs of those who sleep with their fathers, as can be read in your Bible. With you were the throngs of shadows who drank before Ulysses in the grave and also Ulysses and also all who were and all those imagined by those who were. They were all there, and also my parents and also Heraclites and Yorick. How can a man or a woman or a child die, who have been so many springs and so many leaves, so many books and so many birds and so many mornings and nights.

Tonight I can cry like a man, I can feel the tears run down my cheeks, because I know that on earth there is not one thing that is mortal and does not project its shadow. Tonight you have told me without words, Abramowicz, that we must enter death like one who enters a party.


Jorge Luis Borges (born August 24, 1899 in Buenos Aires, Argentina; died June 14, 1986 in Geneva, Switzerland) was an Argentine writer who is considered one of the foremost literary figures of the 20th century. Best-known in the English speaking world for his short stories and fictive essays, Borges was also a poet, critic, and man of letters.

Maurice Abramowicz, lawyer, writer and poet of Polish-Jewish origin. Borges met him in Geneva in 1914 when he was studying in the Collège Calvin. Two years younger than Borges, he initiated him in the works of Rimbaud and maintained a correspondence with him about literary themes. In "Three Versions of Judas" (Ficciones, 1944), Borges attributes to his friend an apocryphal commentary about Nils Runeberg. In Los conjurados, his last book, he dedicates a page [this one] titled "Abromowicz".

 

Translation: Frank Thomas Smith

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