From the Archives: ‘The Labyrinth,’ a Poem by Jorge Luis Borges

In the April 1969 issue of The Atlantic, Borges conjured the sort of surreal, disorienting world for which he had become internationally renowned.


A year before his own work was first published in the magazine, Jorge Luis Borges was introduced to Atlantic readers in two articles in the January 1967 issue. He had by then already established an international reputation for his intelligent and labyrinthine writings, dispatches from what Keith Botsford described in one of the articles as “a Borges universe, which is like ours and yet somehow disquietingly different, alien, magic.” John Gunther, who had visited Borges in Argentina not long before, succinctly characterized him as a “specialist in the abstruse.”

The short stories and verse by Borges that were published in ensuing issues lived up to these introductions. In this poem, he conjures a surreal landscape of stone passages and creeping fear, seeking a specter who would provide companionship—and, maybe, feed on his flesh. — Annika Neklason