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Elvira De Alvear

Jorge Luis Borges, translated from the Spanish by Norman Thomas di Giovanni

She once had everything but one by one
Each thing abandoned her. We saw her armed
With beauty. The morning and the hard light
Of noon from their pinnacle revealed to her
The glorious kingdoms of the world. Evening
Wiped them away. The luck of the stars
(The endless, everpresent web of causes)
Had granted her wealth, which shrinks distances
Like a magic carpet and confuses
Desire and possession; and the gift of verse,
Which works to change real suffering into
Music and to sound and to symbol;
And energy; and in her blood the battle
of Ituzaingó and the weight of laurels;
And the pleasure of losing oneself in time’s
Meandering river (river and maze)
And the evening’s slowly shifting colors.
Each thing deserted her, except for one.
Warmhearted graciousness was at her side
Until her final days, beyond her madness
And decline, in an almost angelic way.
Of Elvira what I saw first, years and years
Past, was her smile and it is now the last.

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