Saturday, February 25, 1978

The Dagger

The Dagger
Jorge Luis Borges

to Margarita Bunge

A dagger rests in a drawer.
It was forged in Toledo at the end of the last
  century. Luis Melián Lafur gave it to my
  father, who brought it from Uruguay. Evaristo
  Carriego once held it in his hand.
Whoever lays eyes on it has to pick up the dagger
  and toy with it, as if he had always been on the 
  lookout for it. The hand is quick to grip the 
  waiting hilt, and the powerful obeying blade 
  slides in and out of the sheath with a click. 
This is not what the dagger wants. 
It is more than a structure of metal; men conceived it
  and shaped it with a single end in mind. It is, in 
  some eternal way, the dagger that last night
  knifed a man in Tacuarembó and the daggers
  that rained on Caesar. It wants to kill, it wants to
  shed sudden blood. 
In a drawer of my writing table, among draft
  pages and old letters, the dagger dreams over 
  and over its simple tiger's dream. On wielding
  it the hand comes alive because the metal comes
  alive, sensing itself, each time handled, in touch
  with the killer for whom it was forged. 
At times I am sorry for it. Such power and single-
  mindedness, so impassive or innocent in its pride, 
  and the years slip by, unheeding.

tr. Norman Thomas di Giovanni