Libraries, labyrinths, and the fact that anything is ever written are constant themes in the works of poems. Here are a few lines from the poem “Alexandria, A.D. 641”. The date refers to the year that the great library at Alexandria was destroyed.

Unceasing human work gave birth to this
Infinity of books. If of them all
Not even one remained, man would again
Beget each page and every line,
Each work and every love of Hercules,
And every teaching of every manuscript.

Las vigilias humanas engendraron
Los infinitos libros. Si de todos
No quedara uno solo, volverían
A engendrar cada hoja y cada línea,
Cada trabajo y cada amor de Hércules,
Cada lección de cada manuscrito.

Towards the end of the poem, in typical Borges fashion, it is revealed that the first person narrator of “Alexandria, A.D. 641” is Caliph Omar, who ordered the destruction of the library. Yet, the concept of continually rebuilding the “infinity of books” also stands outside the history of the library of Alexandria and re-appears in several of other works by Borges.