Strings keep silent [Haiku] – Jorge Luis Borges

The strings keep silent.
But the music to be played knew my feeling to you. 

This is the fourth haiku of the poem titled “Seventeen Haiku” by the Argentine poet Borges, numbered with “4”.

Callan las cuerdas.
La música sabía
lo que yo siento.

– Jorge Luis Borges

First of all, the literal translation would be something like this:

  The strings keep silent.
  The music knew what I felt.

This is fine as it is, but I wondered what “what I felt” is. It occurred to me to expand the image (on my own) in order to re-compose it in haiku style.

In Japan, there is an old poetry collection, “Hyakunin Isshu”. This is gathered waka poems, not haiku, but here, let’s say it is similar. The point is, what a lot of loves are composed in it!

So I tried coloring this author “felt” as a special feeling to someone, as follows:

  The strings keep silent.
  But the music to be played knew my feeling to you.

Just as a melody could be conveyed a sense even if strings were not played, it seems that hidden feelings somehow leak out with no words.

I know it’s a bit stretched, but this is how I put it.

Later, a friend interpreted it as “He can’t play his strings because he feels so lonely”. I see, this is a much more straight interpretation. I might have enjoyed it too much. I would love to hear a haiku he composes.

This is the haiku translated into Japanese style and the pronunciation.


[How to pronunce]
Kanadezu mo
sirabe ha sirinu
mune no uthi.

The others of “Seventeen Haiku”:
Original 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17

Original by Jorge Luis Borges (1982). La cifra. Alianza
Photo by Ylanite Koppens

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