Guest poem submitted by Nisha Susan:
(Poem #1598) To Mrs. Professor in Defense of My Cat's Honor and Not Only
My valiant helper, a small-sized tiger Sleeps sweetly on my desk, by the computer, Unaware that you insult his tribe. Cats play with a mouse or a half-dead mole. You are wrong, though: it's not out of cruelty. They simply like a thing that moves. For, after all, we know that only consciousness Can for a moment move into the Other, Empathize with the pain and panic of a mouse. And such as cats are, all of Nature is. Indifferent, alas, to the good and the evil. Quite a problem for us, I am afraid. Natural history has its museums, But why should our children learn about monsters, An earth of snakes and reptiles for millions of years? Nature devouring, nature devoured, Butchery day and night smoking with blood. And who created it? Was it the good Lord? Yes, undoubtedly, they are innocent, Spiders, mantises, sharks, pythons. We are the only ones who say: cruelty. Our consciousness and our conscience Alone in the pale anthill of galaxies Put their hope in a humane God. Who cannot but feel and think, Who is kindred to us by warmth and movement, For we are, as he told us, similar to Him. Yet if it is so, then He takes pity On every mouse, on every wounded bird, Then the universe for him is like a Crucifixion. Such is the outcome of your attack on the cat: A theological, Augustinian grimace, Which makes difficult our walking on this earth.
I found an anthology called "The Poetical Cat" recently and peeped in with quite a bit of suspicion. It might have turned out to be one of those mulchy last-minute-gift collections. But happily, it was a set of witty and unfamiliar cat poems from across the world. And it had this lovely Milosz. It is easy to be a Milosz fan. You can approach any one of his poems weighed down by angsty questions of "What goes by the name of poetry in this millenium? What is the role of poetry? Have the criteria for great poetry changed? Is greatness itself unfashionable?". Then the intelligence, heart and elegance of Milosz's poems make great writing tangible again. And this is despite my gratitude for being born in an age when there is the cleverness of Wendy Cope or the madness of Ondaatje's Elimination Dance. In this poem Milosz takes the tiresome squabble between cat people and non-cat people and actually uses it to critique Christian morality. And this elevated argument is woven with such grace that it is embarrassing to think of the mechanics of writing. You are forced to think that this poem was born, like mangoes were born. My favourite thing about Milosz is that every poem has a big, robust, fully flowered idea holding it together. This is of course obvious in classics like "Ars Poetica" . He is unafraid of taking a stand and equally unafraid of being in two minds about the Big Questions. In "A Poem For the End of the Century"  he angrily condemns our ability to forget suffering in pursuit of the feel good factor. In "Conversation with Jeanne"  he does a neat volte face and argues in favour of the beauty of the moment. His craft is so extraordinary that the poems in conjunction only comfort all of us who swing from righteous indignation to happy amnesia. Here is a nice bio of the Nobel Prize winner: [broken link] http://www.ibiblio.org/ipa/milosz/bio.html And lots of poems: http://wings.buffalo.edu/info-poland/web/arts_culture/literature/poetry/milo sz/poems/link.shtml Nisha Susan.  http://www.cs.rice.edu/~ssiyer/minstrels/poems/1545.html  [broken link] http://www.ibiblio.org/ipa/milosz/mil2.html  [broken link] http://www.ibiblio.org/ipa/milosz/mil1.html