Sunday, November 08, 2015


When Irene Latham invited me to join in her celebration of ten years of blogging by contributing a post on the theme of WILD, I remembered a quote by Czeslaw Milosz that I read a few years ago, as well as the poem I wrote in response.  The quote came from Milosz's poem, Ars Poetica.

Happy tenth anniversary, Irene!  Thanks for all you do to inspire and encourage poetry online and in our lives!


In the very essence of poetry there is something indecent:
a thing is brought forth which we didn’t know we had in us,
so we blink our eyes, as if a tiger had sprung out
and stood in the light, lashing his tail.  - Czeslaw Milosz

Is there a tiger in me?
Ready to spring out and stand in the light, blinking,
Lashing its tail?

More like a groundhog, maybe,
Peering for its shadow,
Trying to forecast the weather
To figure out what to do next,
What contingency plans to make.

Or a sheep,
Wondering what everyone else is doing,
Baaing in wooly conformity.

At the most scandalous,
A house cat in search of supper.
Ferocity, but domesticated,
Hunting instincts lost several generations back.

But a tiger?
Too large, too loud,
Its lashing tail too apt to knock china cups off the table,
Its stripes designed for Asian forests,
And here, in my living room, serving as advertisement
rather than camouflage.
A tiger?

And yet…
Sometimes a whisper of fur,
A flash of brown and orange,
A gleam of golden eyes.
Something I didn't know I had in me.

Ruth, from

Check out Irene's post and the roundup of other WILD! entries.


Diane Mayr said...

Well, done, Ruth. Much better to be the house cat, Ruth, they're much more cuddly than a tiger, or even a groundhog!

Irene Latham said...

Oh Ruth, I love that whisper of tiger in you, along with groundhog and cat and sheep! Thank you for sharing your wildness! Xo

Linda B said...

Oh yes, sometimes a whisper of fur is just needed. Beautiful, Ruth!

Donna Smith said...

"something I didn't know I had in me" - love the flashes of wildness!

Tabatha said...

You picked a marvelous prompt for yourself, Ruth! I think I'm more turtle than tiger myself. Love "here, in my living room, serving as advertisement/rather than camouflage" and that "whisper of fur"!

Andy Bowen said...

You have to have known you for a long time, like I have, to know that the tiger in you is seen not so much in the moments as in the years.

Doraine said...

Lovely, Ruth. Those flashes are definitely apparent.

laurasalas said...

What a beautiful quotation--and your poem is...gosh, magnificent. (I don't say that often!) My favorite part is

At the most scandalous,
A house cat in search of supper.
Ferocity, but domesticated,
Hunting instincts lost several generations back.

I could really relate to that. And then your ending, with the flash and gleam. Wonderful!

jama said...

Great poem, love that whisper of fur . . . :)

Michelle Heidenrich Barnes said...

Beautiful, Ruth! I think there may be a tigress in you yet. The tea cups can fend for themselves.

Buffy Silverman said...

Lovely Ruth--all those tamer traits, and then the whisper of tiger. Wonderful response!

jan godown annino said...

Both are stunning, the C. Miloz lines, which make me remember
that poems that move me often startle me.
And your fun poem makes me feel everyday creatures are at moments, inscrutable.

Robyn Hood Black said...

Wow, Ruth - a more eloquent version of the idea I explored for this prompt, too! Love that "whisper of fur" - and chuckled at the groundhog. Of course, groundhogs can be fierce, too, when it's called for... ;0)