Things That Might Have Been


I think about things that might have been and never were.
The treatise on Saxon myths that Bede omitted to write.
The inconceivable work that Dante may have glimpsed
As soon as he corrected the Comedy’s last verse.
History without two afternoons: that of the hemlock, that of the Cross.
History without Helen’s face.
Man without the eyes that have granted us the moon.
Over three Gettysburg days, the victory of the South.
The love we never shared.
The vast empire the Vikings declined to found.
The globe without the wheel, or without the rose.
John Donne’s judgment of Shakespeare.
The Unicorn’s other horn.
The fabled Irish bird which alights in two places at once.
The child I never had.

— Jorge Luis Borges, “Things that might have been”

  3 comments for “Things That Might Have Been

  1. sandra martin
    21 Feb 2007 at 7:29 am

    I would have translated it “the son I never had.” I’m not sure men would regret not having a daughter.

  2. Mark E. Deardorff
    23 Aug 2010 at 7:07 pm

    Are there any links elucidating the fabled Irish bird which alights in two places at once?

  3. PE
    23 Aug 2010 at 8:40 pm

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