Friday, October 17, 2008

Two Version's of The Knight, Death and The Devil

Engraving by Albrect Durer, 1513

Under the unreal helmet, the severe profile is cruel like the cruel sword waiting poised. Through the stripped forest rides the horseman unperturbed, clumsily, furtively. The obscene mob closes in on him: the devil with servile eyes, the labyrinthing reptile, and the ashen old man with the hour glass. Iron rider, whoever looks at you knows that in you neither the lie nor pale fear dwells. Your hard fate is to command and offend. You are the brave and you are certainly not unworthy, German, of the devil and death.

There are two roads - that of the man of iron and arrogance who rides firm in his faith through the doubtful woods of the world between the taunts and rigid dance of the devil with death. And the other, the short one, mine.

In what vanished, long-ago night or morning did my eyes discover the fantastic epic, the enduring dream of Durer: the hero and the mob with all its shadows, searching me out and catching me in ambush. It is me and not the paladin whom the hoary old man crowned with sinuous snakes as warning. The future's water clock measures my time not his eternal now. I am the one who will be ashes and darkness. I who set out later will have reached my mortal destination. You, who do not exist, you, rider of the raised sword and the rigid woods, your pace will keep on going as long as there are men: composed, imaginary, eternal.

by Luis Borges
Argentine writer
1899 - 1986

I transcribed this poem by listening to it on YouTube. I feel sure I have butchered the dynamics, but will come back to correct whenever I find it.

It was just too good to pass up.

Hey, Cindy! Do you know this poem?


  1. My Norton Anthology of World Masterpieces has a story by Borges titled The Lottery of Babylon but no poetry. I bet you could find it somewhere in Spanish. I must admit ashamedly that most of my poetry books have the word English in the title, very narrow of me.

  2. Thanks for trying Cindy. Your suggestion for searching in Spanish is a good idea.

    Off and running, I'm following the trail :)