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Chess by J.L.Borges

May 14, 2012, 7:12 PM 0


In their solemn corner, the players move

The slow pieces. The board detains them

Until the dawn in its severe world

In which two colors hate each other.


Within the forms irradiates magic

Strictness: Homeric rook, swift

Knight, armed queen, crucial king,

Oblique bishop and aggressive pawns.


Once the players have finally left,

Once time has devoured them,

Surely the ritual will not have ended.


In the orient like this very war flared up

Whose amphitheater today is the earth entire.

Like the other, the game is infinite.


Weakling king,  slanting bishop, relentless

Queen, direct rook and cunning pawn

Seek and wage their armed battle

Across the black and white of the field.


They know not that the player’s selected  

Hand governs their destiny,

They know not that a rigor adamantine

Subjects their will and rules their day.


The player also is a prisoner

(The saying  is Omar’s) of another board

Of black nights and of white days.


God moves the player, and he, the piece.

Which god behind God begets the plot

Of dust and time and dream and agonies?



--Jorge Luis Borges (Translation: Frank Thomas Smith)

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