In all the world, one man has been born, one man has died.
To insist otherwise is nothing more than statistics, an impossible
No less impossible than bracketing the smell of rain with your
dream of two nights ago.
The man is Ulysses, Abel, Cain, the first to make constellations
of the stars, to build the first pyramid, the man who contrived
the hexagrams of the Book of Changes, the smith
who engraved runes on the sword of Hengist, Einar Tamberskelver
the archer, Luis de León, the bookseller who
fathered Samuel Johnson, Voltaire's gardener, Darwin
aboard the Beagle, a Jew in the death chamber, and, in
time, you and I.
One man alone has died at Troy, at Metaurus, at Hastings, at
Austerlitz, at Trafalgar, at Gettysburg.
One man alone has died in hospitals, in boats, in painful solitude,
in the rooms of habit and of love.
One man alone has looked on the enormity of dawn.
One man alone has felt on his tongue the fresh quenching of
water, the flavor of fruit and of flesh.
I speak of the unique, the single man, he who is always alone.
Friday, September 11, 2009
810. You - Jorge Luis Borges
Translated from the Spanish by Alastair Reid