Magical Realism, Writing, Fiction, Politics, Haiku, Books

domingo, marzo 08, 2009

Dr. Doolittle

Borges continues to delight and amaze me. In his story, Shakespeare's Memory (La Memoria de Shakespeare)(1983), we find the following:
"In Punjab," said the major in the course of our conversation, "a fellow once pointed out a beggar to me. Islamic legend apparently has it, you know, that King Solomon owned a ring that allowed him to understand the language of the birds. And this beggar, so everyone believed, had somehow come into possession of that ring. The value of the thing was so beyond all reckoning that the poor bugger could never sell it, and he died in one of the courtyards of the mosque of Wazil Khan, in Lahore."

What happened to the ring? It was lost, it's in some secret hiding place in the mosque, it's on the finger of someone living where there are no birds. The story continues,
It was at that point that Daniel Thorpe spoke up. He spoke, somehow, impersonally, without looking at us. His English had a peculiar accent, which I attributed to a long stay in the East.

"It is not a parable, " he said. "Or if it is, it is nonetheless a true story. There are things that have a price so high they can never be sold.
The story will eventually explain Thorpe's "peculiar accent." And much more. And the ring that allows the wearer to understand the language of the birds will be turned into a metaphor for something equally improbable, but for me, the story kindled the desire for such a wonderful decoder ring.

It is the earliest of Spring here. The birds have returned from their long winter travels. I can hear them singing. Whenever I hear them I wish, beyond all hope, that I had that long, lost ring of King Solomon, that I knew what the birds were saying, that I could hear about their journeys to Central America, that I could hear about their lives.

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