Instantes, Pick More Daisies – Who Wrote What?

In the process of adding more Spanish poetry to this site, I came across the mystery of the poem Instantes:

Admittedly, I don’t know a whole lot of Spanish so I must rely on my browser’s translation to whatever extent I can make sense of it. So, forgive me for any mistakes or misconceptions, but from what I’ve been able to glean from this Spanish article: Jorge Luis Borges, Autor del Poema Instantes, there are 2 main claims to authorship for the poem Instantes when it is attributed to Argentine writer, Jorge Luis Borges.

“Pick More Daisies” is a very similar prose piece, the author of which was Don Herold. This piece was published in the Readers Digest in 1953.

Then there is the contention that a woman in Kentucky named Nadine Stair wrote it and the title was “If I Had My Life to Live Over.” The first known publication appears to have been March 27, 1978. (The translated page says it was in Family Circus, which I am guessing is Family Circle magazine since the only Family Circus I know about is a cartoon). But, tellingly perhaps, the Stair piece ends with “I’d pick more daisies.”

The article also details an investigation into the existence of Nadine Stair, the results of which apparently showed she never existed, but that the woman who was credited with the poem was really named Nadine Strain. It is concluded that both the piece attributed to Borges and the one credited to Stair / Strain are adapted (putting it charitably) from the Herold piece, although it is speculated that Mr. Herold may have gotten his own inspiration from an earlier writing himself, since there appears to be some quote marks after the title around the first line.

Here’s yet another one online “I’d Pick More Daisies,” credited to an ‘anonymous’ friar in Nebraska, Brother Jeremiah. There are many versions online simply attributed to ‘anonymous.’

Confused? Me, too. All the same, the whole affair leaves me with these questions:

If it was an English piece to begin with, who really translated it into Spanish?

If it was in Spanish first, why didn’t whoever translated it into English make the title “Moments”? The browser translation does and methinks that kinda sounds better.

Oh, wait — there’s an addendum on the article where Scottish poet and scholar of South American literature, Alastair Reid, translated the Spanish version and titled it “Moments.”

It is also pointed out that this translation retains eating “less beans,” which apparently is not a staple of the Argentine diet, so it is considered unlikely that Jorge Luis Borges was eating a lot of them in the first place. It seems that the poem made its way through Mexico, where it picked up the beans. In Don Herold’s version, he’d eat less bran.

Beans really seems strange and out of place in the Nadine version when you think about it. Prunes would make more sense to me, anyway. My grandparents used to eat them everyday! And they certainly lived longer than Don Herold (65) or Jorge Luis Borges (86). Grandpa made it to 93 and my grandmother, 96. Nadine Strain also was 95 or 96 when she passed away so maybe she was hitting the prunes (and the cod liver oil) too.

As for myself, I never eat anything I don’t like and I always eat more ice cream than beans.

~ Reely

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