… out of reach as algebra and the moon

Jorge Luis Borges (1899 - 1986)

“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.


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