During his life, Jorge Luis Borges wore many hats. He was, variously, a poet, an essayist, a short-story writer, a librarian, and, for a short time, a poultry inspector. Born in Argentina in 1899, he lived for several years in Europe before eventually returning home to Buenos Aires in the early 1920s. It was here that Borges started his career as a writer. At the age of 24, he published his first volume of poetry, and though he would go on to garner considerable acclaim as an essayist and crafter of fiction, he always considered himself first and foremost a poet. This bilingual edition of Selected Poems
, edited by Alexander Coleman, gathers together 200 poems from different periods of Borges's life, including some that will be appearing in English for the first time.
Whether he was writing fiction, essays, or poetry, there were certain themes and subjects that Borges returned to time and again. His home town became a favorite topic--in his first collection, Fervor de Buenos Aires, he wrote: "My soul is in the streets / of Buenos Aires," a sentiment that remained constant throughout his life. This collection reveals other preoccupations as well--with history in all its permutations, Borges's own ancestry, and his fascination with metaphysics, mazes, mirror images, and the blurry line between parallel realities:
The celibate white cat surveys himself
in the mirror's clear-eyed glass,
not suspecting that the whiteness facing him
and those gold eyes that he's not seen before
in ramblings through the house are his own likeness.
Who is to tell him the cat observing him
is only the mirror's way of dreaming?
This companion volume to Andrew Hurley's new translation of Collected Fictions
boasts a stellar cast of translators, including W.S. Merwin, Mark Strand, and John Updike among others. Admirers of Borges will find Selected Poems
a fitting memorial to the great man; and for those have never had the pleasure of reading him before, this book is a wonderful introduction. --Alix Wilber