Limits, again

Am reminded today, for some unfathomable reason, of a thing I used to feel when younger – not so much these days – a kind of pre-emptive nostalgia, of already missing the place I was in. I remember my first real trip abroad, must have been about 13-14, wandering round Malta in the blazing heat. Came across the remains of some old Roman settlement and was suddenly hit with a wave of sadness – that ‘you-can-never-go-down-to-the-same-river-twice’ kind of thing. I would never see this place again, not the same way. I could revisit it, but it wouldn’t be the same place, or I wouldn’t be the same me..

Anyway, used to get that a lot, as I said, not so much now. Not sure whether I miss it. Ha – not sure if I’m nostalgic for the feeling of nostalgia, that sounds like me.. On the odd occasion it does happen still, it’s usually triggered by searingly hot days, freshly-cut grass, melting tarmac, certain pieces of music, or the poetry of Borges, most notably this one.. (I make no apologies for the fact that I may have previously posted it here some time ago…)


Of all the streets that blur in to the sunset,
There must be one (which, I am not sure)
That I by now have walked for the last time
Without guessing it, the pawn of that Someone

Who fixes in advance omnipotent laws,
Sets up a secret and unwavering scale
for all the shadows, dreams, and forms
Woven into the texture of this life.

If there is a limit to all things and a measure
And a last time and nothing more and forgetfulness,
Who will tell us to whom in this house
We without knowing it have said farewell?

Through the dawning window night withdraws
And among the stacked books which throw
Irregular shadows on the dim table,
There must be one which I will never read.

There is in the South more than one worn gate,
With its cement urns and planted cactus,
Which is already forbidden to my entry,
Inaccessible, as in a lithograph.

There is a door you have closed forever
And some mirror is expecting you in vain;
To you the crossroads seem wide open,
Yet watching you, four-faced, is a Janus.

There is among all your memories one
Which has now been lost beyond recall.
You will not be seen going down to that fountain
Neither by white sun nor by yellow moon.

You will never recapture what the Persian
Said in his language woven with birds and roses,
When, in the sunset, before the light disperses,
You wish to give words to unforgettable things.

And the steadily flowing Rhone and the lake,
All that vast yesterday over which today I bend?
They will be as lost as Carthage,
Scourged by the Romans with fire and salt.

At dawn I seem to hear the turbulent
Murmur of crowds milling and fading away;
They are all I have been loved by, forgotten by;
Space, time, and Borges now are leaving me.


One thought on “Limits, again

  1. It’s hard to feel pre-emptive nostalgia if you don’t ever go anywhere, goddamnit. When are you coming to visit? I’m having a kind of pre-emptive nostalgia, missing the possibility of you because you’re not here.

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