CHESS



by Jorge Luis Borges

I

In their solemn corner, the players move
The slow pieces. The board detains them
Until the dawn in its severe world
In which two colors hate each other.

Within the forms irradiate magic
Strictness: Homeric rook, swift
Knight, armed queen, hintermost king,
Oblique bishop and aggressor pawns.

Once the players have finally left,
Once time has devoured them,
Surely the ritual will not have ended.
 
In the orient this very war flared up
Whose amphitheater today is the earth entire.
Like the other, this game is infinite.

II

Weakling king,  slanting bishop, relentless
Queen, direct rook and cunning pawn
Seek and wage their armed battle
Across the black and white of the field.
 
They know not that the player’s notorious  
Hand governs their destiny,
They know not that a rigor adamantine
Subjects their will and rules their day.
 
The player also is a prisoner
(The saying  is Omar’s) of another board
Of black nights and of white days.
 
God moves the player, and he, the piece.
Which god behind God begets the plot
Of dust and time and dream and agonies?
 

Translation: Frank Thomas Smith

Note: In the original Spanish there is a rhyming scheme impossible (for me) to duplicate.

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