Two versions of “Ritter, Tod und Teufel



Beneath the chimerical helmet the severe

Profile is cruel like the cruel sword

That waits. All through the despoiled forest

Rides imperturbable the horseman near.

Torpid, furtive, the obscene unspeakable band

Has surrounded him: the Devil with servile

Eyes, the twining labyrinth of reptiles

And the faded ancient with clock of sand.

Horseman of iron, whoever looks upon you

Knows that in you dwells no shred of falsehood

Nor of pallid fear. Your hard gest

Is to order and insult. You are valiant

And ever fail in worthiness you shall not,

German, of the Devil and of Death.





Twofold are the ways. That of this man

Of iron and superbia, and who rides,

Firm in his faith, through the doubtful forest

Of the world, between the jeering and the dance

Immobile of the Devil and of Death,

And the other, brief, mine. In what effaced

Antique night or morning did my eyes

Discover the first time the fantastic epic,

The perdurable dream that is of Dürer,

The hero and the band of all his shadows

That seek me out, watch and come to meet:

Me, not the paladin, exhorts the faded

Ancient with his coronet of sinuous

Snakes. The clepsydra of succession

Measures my time, not his eternal now.

I shall be ash itself and darkness too;

I, who started after, shall have reached

My mortal end; you, who are not at all,

You, horseman of the upright sword

And of the rigid forest, your wayfaring

Shall proceed so long as men abide...

Imperturbable, imaginary, eternal.


Jorge Luis Borges