Borges: A Rose and Milton (From Spanish)

A Rose and Milton
By Jorge Luis Borges
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

Amid the generations of the rose
That in the deep of ages lie long gone
I want one to be spared oblivion,
Unmarked and undistinguished among those
Bygone. I am bequeathed by destiny
The privilege of bestowing the first name
Upon that silent rose, the last and same
Flower that Milton held and could not see
Before his face. O you vermillion, white
Or yellow rose from a garden long erased,
Your immemorial past, by magic placed
In the one present, is this verse's light:
Gold, ivory, or blood, the shades enclose
You, as his fingers once, invisible rose.

The Original:

Una Rosa Y Milton

De las generaciones de las rosas
que en el fondo del tiempo se han perdido
quiero que una se salve del olvido,
una sin marca o signo entre las cosas
que fueron. El destino me depara
este don de nombrar por vez primera
esa flor silenciosa, la postrera
rosa que Milton acercó a su cara,
sin verla. Oh tú bermeja o amarilla
o blanca rosa de un jardín borrado,
deja mágicamente tu pasado
inmemorial y en este verso brilla,
oro, sangre o marfil o tenebrosa
como en sus manos, invisible rosa.


  1. Since first encountering Borges' poetry, I've always been more attracted to that than to his other writings. It's been a personal thing for me, since I have always loved and admired good poetry, which has the capacity to expand beyond the confines of its literal text.

    In this case, by looking back at Milton's blindness, the poet alludes to Borges' own blindness, and a sense of continuity, and of a tradition of sensory experience is alluded to. As is a sense of humility in the poet in the face of the memory of the greater, earlier poet. But there is -- at the same time -- a multiplicity of sensing: instead of just Milton comprehending the rose, we have Borges comprehending Milton comprehending the rose, and, in turn, the reader comprehending Borges comprehending....

  2. beautiful !
    I would translate differently one line, though, 4th line:
    " ONE unmarked and undistinguished among those "
    cause in the castellano (spanish) version the interpretation is to spare one (a special one) from oblivion and not just anyone to be spared and unmarked; but a special one wich already is unmarked and undistinguished, cause it was the one Milton smelled.
    Sorry, it's just my interpretation. I am sure i could be wrong.
    Do you translate from english to spanish too?
    I am trying to find Milton's L'Allegro in spanish.