Guest poem submitted by Nivedita Magar:
(Poem #401) To a Cat
Mirrors are not more wrapt in silences nor the arriving dawn more secretive ; you, in the moonlight, are that panther figure which we can only spy at from a distance. By the mysterious functioning of some divine decree, we seek you out in vain ; remoter than the Ganges or the sunset, yours is the solitude, yours is the secret. Your back allows the tentative caress my hand extends. And you have condescended, since that forever, now oblivion, to take love from a flattering human hand. you live in other time, lord of your realm - a world as closed and separate as dream.
I love Borges. And I've always wanted to send a poem by him in, I couldn't decide which one though. Also I can't think what 'comments' to put down for any of his poems. For me a perfect poem is one that can stand by itself and doesn't need any comments. In which case, I think of any analysis like a Post Mortem procedure - a desecration!!! This poem is so perfect there's little I'd want to add to it. 'To a Cat' was my introduction to Borges. I stumbled upon it just after my cat died of a neural disease. It has always baffled me how some bits of poetry *find* you, like this poem did. Borges like Blake seems so intimately 'to speak one's condition' that I always thought of him as my private possession. It therefore came as a surprise to realise how enormously popular he is... Nivedita. [Biography] b. Aug. 24, 1899, Buenos Aires, Arg. d. June 14, 1986, Geneva, Switz. Argentine poet, essayist, and short-story writer whose works have become classics of 20th-century world literature. Borges was reared in the then-shabby district of Palermo, the setting of some of his works. His family, which had been notable in Argentine history, included British ancestry, and he learned English before Spanish. The first books that he read--from the library of his father, a man of wide-ranging intellect who taught at an English school--included The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the novels of H.G. Wells, The Thousand and One Nights, and Don Quixote, all in English. Under the constant stimulus and example of his father, the young Borges from his earliest years recognized that he was destined for a literary career. In 1914, on the eve of World War I, Borges was taken by his family to Geneva, where he learned French and German and received his B.A. from the Collège de Genève. Leaving there in 1919, the family spent a year in Majorca and a year in Spain, where Borges joined the young writers of the Ultraist movement, a group that rebelled against what it considered the decadence of the established writers of the Generation of '98. Returning to Buenos Aires in 1921, Borges rediscovered his native city and began to sing of its beauty in poems that imaginatively reconstructed its past and present. His first published book was a volume of poems, Fervor de Buenos Aires, poemas (1923; "Fervour of Buenos Aires, Poems"). He is also credited with establishing the Ultraist movement in South America, though he later repudiated it. This period of his career, which included the authorship of several volumes of essays and poems and the founding of three literary journals, ended with a biography, Evaristo Carriego (1930). During his next phase, Borges gradually overcame his shyness in creating pure fiction. At first he preferred to retell the lives of more or less infamous men, as in the sketches of his Historia universal de la infamia (1935; A Universal History of Infamy). To earn his living, in 1938 he took a major post at a Buenos Aires library named for one of his ancestors. He remained there for nine unhappy years. In 1938, the year his father died, Borges suffered a severe head wound and subsequent blood poisoning, which left him near death, bereft of speech, and fearing for his sanity. This experience appears to have freed in him the deepest forces of creation. In the next eight years he produced his best fantastic stories, those later collected in the series of Ficciones ("Fictions") and the volume of English translations entitled The Aleph and Other Stories, 1933-69. During this time, he and another writer, Adolfo Bioy Casares, jointly wrote detective stories under the pseudonym H. Bustos Domecq (combining ancestral names of the two writers' families), which were published in 1942 as Seis problemas para Don Isidro Parodi (Six Problems for Don Isidro Parodi). The works of this period revealed for the first time Borges' entire dreamworld, an ironical or paradoxical version of the real one, with its own language and systems of symbols. When the dictatorship of Juan Perón came to power in 1946, Borges was dismissed from his library position for having expressed support of the Allies in World War II. With the help of friends, he earned his way by lecturing, editing, and writing. A 1952 collection of essays, Otras inquisiciones (1937-1952) (Other Inquisitions, 1937-1952), revealed him at his analytical best. When Perón was deposed in 1955, Borges became director of the national library, an honorific position, and also professor of English and American literature at the University of Buenos Aires. By this time, Borges suffered from total blindness, a hereditary affliction that had also attacked his father and had progressively diminished his own eyesight from the 1920s onward. It had forced him to abandon the writing of long texts and to begin dictating to his mother or to secretaries or friends. The works that date from this late period, such as El hacedor (1960; "The Doer," Eng. trans. Dreamtigers) and El libro de los seres imaginarios (1967; The Book of Imaginary Beings), almost erase the distinctions between the genres of prose and poetry. Later collections of stories included El informe de Brodie (1970; Dr. Brodie's Report), which dealt with revenge, murder, and horror, and El libro de arena (1975; The Book of Sand), both of which are allegories combining the simplicity of a folk storyteller with the complex vision of a man who has explored the labyrinths of his own being to its core. [Assessment] After 1961, when he and Samuel Beckett shared the prestigious Formentor Prize, Borges' tales and poems were increasingly acclaimed as classics of 20th-century world literature. Prior to that time, Borges was little known, even in his native Buenos Aires, except to other writers, many of whom regarded him merely as a craftsman of ingenious techniques and tricks. By the time of his death, the nightmare world of his "fictions" had come to be compared with the world of Franz Kafka and to be praised for concentrating common language into its most enduring form. Through his work, Latin-American literature emerged from the academic realm into the realm of generally educated readers throughout the Western world. [Links] Couldn't resist adding the final word: I love post-modernist prose in general and Borges in particular. Here's a _lovely_ site which talks about both: [broken link] http://rpg.net/quail/libyrinth/libyrinth.omphalos.html thomas.