… out of reach as algebra and the moon
“Tú, lengua de Alemania, eres tu obra
capital: el amor entrelazado
de las voces compuestas, las vocales
abiertas, los sonidos que permiten
el estudioso hexámetro del griego
y tu rumor de selvas y de noches.
Te tuve alguna vez. Hoy, en la linde
de los años cansados, te diviso
lejana como el álgebra y la luna.”
(You, language of Germany, are the masterpiece:
love interwound in all your compound voices
and open vowels, sounds which accommodate
the studious hexameters of Greek
and undercurrents of jungles and of nights.
Once, I had you. Now, at the far extreme
of weary years, I feel you have become
as out of reach as algebra and the moon).
From the poem “Al idioma alemán” (1972) by Jorge Luis Borges
Early in his life Borges read philosophy in German and developed a deep love and admiration for German language and literature. In this poem of adoration, written in the “far extreme of weary years”, the blind writer and poet laments of his beloved language becoming as unreachable as algebra.