Borges on the will

‘You have spoken of the will,’ I said. ‘In the tales of the Mabinogion, two kings play chess on the summit of a hill, while below them their warriors fight. One of the kings wins the game, a rider comes to him with the news that the army of the other side has been beaten. The battle of the  men was a mirror of the battle of the chessboard.’

‘Ah, a feat of magic,’ said Zimmerman.

‘Or the display of a will in two different fields,’ I said. ‘Another Celtic legend tells of the duel between two famous bards. One, accompanying himself on the harp, sings from the twilight of morning to the twilight of evening. Then, under the stars or moon, he hands his harp over to his rival. The second bard lays the instrument aside and gets to his feet. The first bard acknowledges defeat.’

  • from “Guayaquil”, in “Doctor Brodie’s Report”, Jorge Luis Borges

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