“Y todavia no has escrito el poema”
From Borges’ “Mateo, XXV, 30” (Matthew 25:30), after a Borgesian miscellany of things the narrator has been given (“Estrellas, pan, bibliotecas orientales y occidentales, / Naipes, tableros de ajedrez, galerías, claraboys y sótanos…”, “Stars, bread, libraries of East and West, / playing-cards, chessboards, galleries, skylights, cellars…”), we find this:
En vano te hemos prodigado el océano,
En vano el sol, que vieron los maravillados ojos de Whitman:
Has gastado los años y te han gastado,
Y todavia no has escrito el poema.
And the English translation:
In vain have oceans been squandered on you, in vain,
the sun, wonderfully seen through Whitman’s eyes.
You have used up the years and they have used up you,
and still, and still, you have not written the poem.
If I were to write “Y todavia no has escrito el poema” on the ceiling above my bed so I would see it when I woke up, or above my office door, or below the monitor of my laptop, maybe, just maybe, I would at least entertain the thought of not squandering my inheritance.
Both the Spanish and the English text quoted above are from Jorge Luis Borges, Selected Poems, edited by Alexander Coleman. The English text is Alaister Reid’s translation.