Poem: Learn with every goodbye

Learn With Every Goodbye

Unknown / Veronica A Shoffstall / Jorge Luis Borges

After a while, you learn the subtle difference

and between holding a hand and chaining a soul,

And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning

And company doesn’t mean security,

And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts

And presents aren’t promises,

And you begin to accept your defeats

With the grace of a woman,

not the grief of a child,

And learn to build all your roads on today

Because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans,

And futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight

And after a while, you learn That even sunshine burns if you get too much.

So you plant your own garden

and decorate your own soul,

Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.

And you learn that you really can endure…

That you really are strong

And you really do have worth

And you learn

and learn…

With every goodbye, you learn.


25 thoughts on “Poem: Learn with every goodbye

  1. Sandy F. says

    ©1971 Veronica Shoffstall is the poet who wrote this poet.

    this is absolutely a copyrighted poem by a known poet and should have the proper credit. It’s a wonderful encouragement for anyone going through problems, for sure, but it IS important to give literary credit where due.

    Please correct this post and remove “unknown.” Thanks.

  2. Annkur says

    Thanks for the pointer Sandy, I have corrected the same.

    @every1: I did mention the source of the poem, but unfortunately the source that I referred to didn’t have the author name. Lesson learnt, I shall verify next time…

  3. susanmiranda says

    This is the most important piece of work, for me ever. After the loss of my wonderful daughter, I created a beautiful work of art as a tribute to her specialness, and decoratively bordered the art with the words “plant your own garden and decorate your own soul, instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers”. This beautiful poem has meant everything to me. Sincerely, Susan.

  4. Inanna says

    It’s a translation of a poem by spanish poet Jorge Luis Borges (1899 – 1986) called Y Uno Aprende (pop the text below into google translate and see what comes out if you don’t believe me). Shameless plagarism on the part of Ms. Shoffstall

    Después de un tiempo,
    uno aprende la sutil diferencia
    entre sostener una mano
    y encadenar un alma,
    y uno aprende que el amor
    no significa acostarse
    y una compañía no significa seguridad
    y uno empieza a aprender.
    Que los besos no son contratos y los regalos no son promesas
    y uno empieza a aceptar sus derrotas con la cabeza alta y los ojos abiertos y uno aprende a construir todos sus caminos en el hoy,
    porque el terreno de mañana
    es demasiado inseguro para planes…
    y los futuros tienen una forma de caerse en la mitad.
    Y después de un tiempo
    uno aprende que si es demasiado,
    hasta el calorcito del sol quema.
    Así que uno planta su propio jardín
    y decora su propia alma, en lugar
    de esperar a que alguien le traiga flores. Y uno aprende que realmente puede aguantar, que uno realmente es fuerte,
    que uno realmente vale, y uno aprende y aprende…
    y con cada día uno aprende.

    • Annkur says

      +1 Susan, its the essence of the poem that matters.

      Though due credit is important. Inanna, thanks for the comment.

  5. Jessica says

    The credit should be given to the correct poet and should be revised to reflect Borges.

  6. says

    Inanna & Jessica have it right- the poet labored, constructed the thoughts articulately and with artistry. The correct source should ALWAYS be credited! There is too much of this on the “misinformation”net, because there is no one to take responsibility! Triple check resources & then do it another 3 times. And then you might be close to correct.

  7. says

    It’s a lovely poem and I think the point here is that it brings solace and some joy to every one who reads it. To whom the credit goes may be for another forum.

    I’ve read this before but it was lovely to read it again. Thanks, Annkur, for the reminder.

  8. Swati says

    This poem is lovely but seems mired in controversy regarding the original poet. Some have attributed it to Judith Evans as well. I do wonder if someone can actually quote from a published work to authenticate it? Is it really is a Borges poem, with translation by Shoftstall, or it is being wrongly attributed to him in order to make it seem more important?

    • Annkur says

      Wish I had an answer Swati, its the wordings that attracted me. Being a writer myself, I recognize the need for correct attribution, but then there are times when its unclear. I can be with that. Thanks

  9. Swati says

    I know. But surely it needn’t be unclear. Borges is a well known poet – there must be books in the library which people have access to (I don’t). Shoftstall, in a google search, doesn’t throw up anything except this one poem. So the prima facie evidence points to her being a translator only – but that, sadly, is no proof.

    • Annkur says

      Thanks Swati, have added both names above for now. That may not be the best I can do, but thats what I have chosen to do for now.

  10. Nrob says

    Found a way to contact Shofstall herself through a publisher a few years back (lost all the contact info, having moved, etc.) but she herself said she wrote it. I didn’t ask about the Spanish poem at that time because I didn’t know about it.

  11. John says

    This is a poem by Jorge Luis Borges translated word for word and I believe the credit should be given to him. Veronica Shoffstall is the poet who translated this poem.
    Miss Shoffstall should give literary credit where it is due.

  12. says

    I fell in love with this poem maybe 20 years ago after I’d completed a disasterous marriage with an acrimonious divorce. It enlightened me of many of my confused conceptions of love and marriage. Now I tell my teenage daugher to embrace the honesty of the poem. I am delighted to learn that it is not anonymous any more!

  13. Jane says

    This is one of the best poems written, but not by these two! The author is unknown.

  14. Beth says

    My middle son sent this to me, through email, in 2001 when I was about to go on a date because he wanted to encourage me, he was 24 at the time. He past away in 2008, age 31, after fighting Leukemia for 21 months. I am so glad I kept that email, I now have it hanging in my hall. I love it- it has helped me in so many ways, then and every day since.

  15. Christina says

    I have loved this poem for so many years, it still does so much for me every time I read it. It was given to me by a friend with the title called “Comes The Dawn” by unknown. I’ve seen it called “Untitled” by unknown. I really wish we could find clarity in who the original author is. It’s a question I have wondered about for years. I have seen a few people reference Shoffstall, but very often the last line..”with every goodbye you learn” was missing. That omission from when I’ve found it in many other places makes me question her as the legitimate author. I would prefer to see an authentic 1st Edition book with this poem in it. If its a translation from another language give credit where credit is due. Until then, I prefer to enjoy this inspiring writing as a gift perhaps from the heavens.

  16. Kristina says

    I’m stunned. I read this poem in Ann Landers’ column around 1981, and don’t recall any credit having been given to Borges. Thanks to all who knew and shared for clearing that up.

  17. Fact Checker says

    I have a copy of Jorge Luis Borges’ Selected Poems published by Viking/Penguin, first published 1999, edited by Alexander Coleman and with translations of poems by multiple translators. I can confirm that the poem above is NOT included.

    Granted this does not establish whether Borges wrote this or not, but if he did there must be a published version somewhere, or a citation. Could the commentors claiming authorship by Borges point to a published source?

  18. Verónica says

    People, this is NOT a poem by Borges. There’s been public declarations saying this was not written by him. First of all, the Spanish version is actually a translation, the original is in English. There’s several marks and mistakes that make it evident, such as the “futures have a way of falling down” which in Spanish has been translated literally, even though it doesn’t really make sense. Borges would never use a phrase like that, even if he was also an English speaker, he’d never use a poorly translated phrase.

    Moreover, this is not his style at all. It seems odd that you would be so anxious to defend his honor while not beeing able to recognize his style, more importantly, the lack of it.

    This poem is originally in English, it was written by this woman and shame on you for believing anything you read on the internet without at least googling it first.

  19. Mary says

    I stumbled on this poem while looking at Pintrist. My husband’s grandmother wrote and submitted this poem to a contest, we believe it was a local newspaper. She lived in Baltimore, Maryland at that time. Her name was Lucille Mason and the poem was titled “Comes the Dawn”. We still have the hand written copy somewhere in our home.