|Rosemary & Alexandra 1973 - Bebederos, Arboledas, Estado de México|
Perhaps it was Elizabeth Barrett Browning who with her Sonnet 43 How Do I Love Thee? might have begun the tired (was it?) 20th century cliché of telling anybody you loved them.
I know that when my mother died in 1972 I regretted the fact I had rarely told her of my love for her.
After my 52 year marriage to my Rosemary I find it hard to recall if after I met her and asked her to marry me if I uttered that phrase. And now with her gone I feel no better than when my mother died. There is that guilt of having failed.
My mother was the kind of person who often told me that to love was not something of displayed by affection. She would say, “Love is doing.” And yet I also regret not having hugged my mother as much as I could have. With Rosemary I was always affectionate but she may have indirectly inherited some of my mother’s coolness. And, as my mother, she did (do) lots of stuff for me and for our family that proved her love. If I now live in quiet solitude with no worries it is because my Rosemary did do.
My friend Kerry McPhedran today sent me an email with a Borges quote that somehow has escaped my memory.
Being with you or without you
is how I measure my time.
That quote was followed by Kerry writing: I thought of you and Rosemary when I read this.
That made me curious and I found the poem by Borges (it will be here below in both Spanish and English). It is a lovely poem by a man which the opinion of experts declared that he had a problem communicating with women. The anguish in this poem with that line “Me duele una mujer en todo el cuerpo.” This is translated to, “A woman hurts on my entire body.” makes this love poem unique and wonderful. I would have translated in my entire body not on.
El amenazado for me is Jorge Luis Borges’s magnum opus love poem. It successfully blends how it hurts to love and how much more it hurts when you have lost the person you loved and rarely told you loved..
Es el amor.
Tendré que ocultarme o que huir.
Crecen los muros de su cárcel
como en un sueño atroz.
La hermosa máscara ha cambiado,
pero como siempre es la única.
¿De qué me servirán mis talismanes:
el ejercicio de las letras, la vaga erudición,
el aprendizaje de las palabras que usó
el áspero Norte para cantar sus mares y sus espadas,
la serena amistad, las galerías de la biblioteca,
las cosas comunes, los hábitos,
el joven amor de mi madre,
la sombra militar de mis muertos,
la noche intemporal, el sabor del sueño?
Estar contigo o no estar contigo
es la medida de mi tiempo.
Ya el cántaro se quiebra sobre la fuente,
ya el hombre se levanta a la voz del ave,
ya se han oscurecido los que miran por las ventanas,
pero la sombra no ha traído la paz.
Es, ya lo sé, el amor:
la ansiedad y el alivio de oír tu voz,
la espera y la memoria,
el horror de vivir en lo sucesivo.
Es el amor con sus mitologías,
con sus pequeñas magias inútiles.
Hay una esquina por la que no me atrevo a pasar.
Ya los ejércitos me cercan, las hordas.
(Esta habitación es irreal; ella no la ha visto.)
El nombre de una mujer me delata.
Me duele una mujer en todo el cuerpo.
The Threatened One
It´s love. I will have to hide or run.
The walls of its prison grow, like in an awful dream.
The beautiful mask has changed, but as always, it's the only one.
In which way will my talismans serve me: the exercise of letters,
the vague erudition, the learning of the words that the rough North uses to sing his seas and his swords,
the calm friendship, the galleries of the library, the common things,
the habits, the young love of my mother, the military shadow of my deceased, the timeless night, the flavor of the dream?
Being or not being with you is the measure of my time.
The pitch breaks over the fountain, the man
rises at the voice of the bird, the ones that look through the windows have darkened, but shadow hasn't brought peace.
It's, I know, love: the anxiety and the relief of hearing yur voice, the wait and the memory, the horror of living on the sequential.
It's love with its mythologies, with it's useless little magics.
There is a corner that I don't dare passing by.
The armies fence me already, the hordes.
(This room is unreal; she hasn't seen it.)
The name of a woman betrays me.
A woman hurts on my entire body.