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Jorge Luis Borges | You Learn


Pico Iyer, according to the  New York Times Book Review,  is “a post-modern traveler, rooted nowhere and moving in order to disprove the illusion of home. Travel for him is a metaphysical project—a meditation on space, a sermon on our estrangement.”

Tuburan, Cebu, Philippines

I do think that home is an illusion, an illusion that I’m contented to have.

With the incessant tales of departures and arrivals in our lives, we come to accept and live with them.


After a while you learn the subtle difference
between holding a hand and chaining a soul,
and you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning
and company doesn’t mean security.
And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts
and presents aren’t promises,
and you begin to accept your defeats
with your head up and your eyes open
with the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child,
and you learn to build all your roads on today
because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans
and futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.
After a while you learn
that even sunshine burns if you get too much.
So you plant your garden and decorate your own soul,
instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure.
That you really are strong.
And you really do have worth.
And you learn. And learn.
With every good-bye you learn.

—Jorge Luis Borges

Translated by Veronica A. Shoffstall


Friday Poetry translates a personal experience that reminds me of a line or an entire poem.


YOUR HELP REACHES PLACES. A DOLLAR CAN GO A MILE. LITERALLY. 🙂 “One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things,” says Henry Miller. But a dollar can go places. 😉

Help BWAB weave more narratives, encounter more interesting characters, and frame more places and memories. Thank you.

Jona of Backpacking with a Book

Hi there, I’m Jona! I’m in my early 30s and is currently based in Ha Noi, Vietnam.I primarily write poetry and short stories in Cebuano and lengthy travel essays in English. Blogging has become an outlet to think out loud. I live the life I set for myself. I try to live an unapologetic life. For collaborations, projects, and other things, please email me at backpackingwithabook@gmail.com. Find me somewhere else!

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  1. thirdhandart says:

    Beautiful photo and poem!

  2. Zen says:

    Learning is indeed a part of life. Acceptance and how we deal with what happens to us, is what I have learned.
    Nice capture and nice poem. 🙂

  3. Nandini says:

    Beautiful flower! 🙂

    And great poem.

  4. Usually do not get much from poems, but this is a great one!

  5. susie says:

    great red flower capture! and how did you know that right now what I needed was this poem from Borges? It is a great poem. I’m going to slide in on over to my blog. thank you for sharing this.

  6. […] taped Jorge Luis Borges’s poem, You Learn, to the wall above my desk. It’s helping me through the married to not married […]

  7. S.D. Lagar says:

    Hi Jona, I’ll repost this poem. Okay? 🙂

  8. grasya says:

    i love reading thoughts like these! thanks for posting this poem ha ^_^

  9. Cathy says:

    This is a beautiful poem, but it is not written by Jorge Luis Borges. It has been passed around the internet often under his name, but he did not write it.

    • Aylianna Littlefeather says:

      Yes, it was written by Jorge Luis Borges. Nice try though, but you offered no evidence (proof) of your claim, nor offered any name who may have supposedly written it.

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