Thursday, November 16, 2023

Ode to the Cat by Pablo Neruda

The animals were imperfect,


unfortunate in their heads.

Little by little they

put themselves together,

making themselves a landscape,

acquiring spots, grace, flight.

The cat,

only the cat

appeared complete and proud:

he was born completely finished,

walking alone and knowing what he wanted.

Man wants to be fish or fowl,

the snake would like to have wings

the dog is a disoriented lion,

the engineer would like to be a poet,

the fly studies to be a swift,

the poet tries to imitate the fly,

but the cat

only wants to be a cat

and any cat is a cat

from his whiskers to his tail,

from his hopeful vision of a rat

to the real thing,

from the night to his golden eyes.

There is no unity

like him,

the moon and the flower

do not have such context:

he is just one thing

like the sun or the topaz,

and the elastic line of his contours

is firm and subtle like

the line of a ship's prow.

His yellow eyes

have just one


to coin the gold of night time.

Oh little

emperor without a sphere of influence

conqueror without a country,

smallest living-room tiger, nuptial

sultan of the sky,

of the erotic roof-tiles,

the wind of love

in the storm

you claim

when you pass

and place

four delicate feet

on the ground,



all that is terrestrial,

because everything

is too unclean

for the immaculate foot of the cat.

Oh independent wild beast

of the house


vestige of the night,

lazy, gymnastic

and alien,

very deep cat,

secret policeman

of bedrooms,


of a

disappeared velvet,

surely there is no


in your manner,

perhaps you are not a mystery,

everyone knows of you

and you belong

to the least mysterious inhabitant,

perhaps everyone believes it,

everyone believes himself the owner,



of a cat,




or friend

of his cat.

Not me.

I do not subscribe.

I do not know the cat.

I know it all, life and its archipelago,

the sea and the incalculable city,


the gyneceum and its frenzies,

the plus and the minus of mathematics,

the volcanic frauds of the world,

the unreal shell of the crocodile,

the unknown kindness of the fireman,

the blue atavism of the priest,

but I cannot decipher a cat.

My reason slips on his indifference,

his eyes have golden numbers.