The Way Back: A Poet’s Love of Texas

The Way Back: A Poet's Love of Texas

Borges with UT professor Miguel Gonzalez-Gerth outside Batts Hall.

In 1961, Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges was aging and mostly blind, but his international reputation had begun to blossom, culminating in the prestigious Pritzker Award. That fall, Borges began teaching in the English department at UT, and the state of Texas captured a special place in his heart, as reflected in his poem “Texas.”

“My mind is full of wistful memories of Austin and of the days I spent there with my mother, way back in ’61.”

The Harry Ransom Center holds two manuscripts of the poem, and a note leafed in with the pages explains their provenance. Edward Larocque Tinker, an author and philanthropist who endowed Borges’ position at UT, was having lunch with Borges and his wife in New York in December 1967. During the conversation, Borges mentioned that he had written a sonnet about Texas, and Tinker asked if he would write the poem in his own hand. Borges replied that he had written nothing since he went blind some 12 years ago—but he would try. He dictated the poem to his wife since his handwriting was so illegible.

Borges later wrote to a Ransom Center cataloger: “My mind is full of wistful memories of Austin and of the days I spent there with my mother, way back in ’61.”

Top: Photo courtesy The Dolph Briscoe Center for American History

 

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