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(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973 / Parral / Chile)

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Cat's Dream

How neatly a cat sleeps,
sleeps with its paws and its posture,
sleeps with its wicked claws,
and with its unfeeling blood,
sleeps with all the rings--
a series of burnt circles--
which have formed the odd geology
of its sand-colored tail.

I should like to sleep like a cat,
with all the fur of time,
with a tongue rough as flint,
with the dry sex of fire;
and after speaking to no one,
stretch myself over the world,
over roofs and landscapes,
with a passionate desire
to hunt the rats in my dreams.

I have seen how the cat asleep
would undulate, how the night
flowed through it like dark water;
and at times, it was going to fall
or possibly plunge into
the bare deserted snowdrifts.
Sometimes it grew so much in sleep
like a tiger's great-grandfather,
and would leap in the darkness over
rooftops, clouds and volcanoes.

Sleep, sleep cat of the night,
with episcopal ceremony
and your stone-carved moustache.
Take care of all our dreams;
control the obscurity
of our slumbering prowess
with your relentless heart
and the great ruff of your tail.


Translated by Alastair Reid

Submitted by Jen

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003


Read poems about / on: cat, tiger, sleep, sometimes, water, fire, dark, night, dream, world, hunting

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Comments about this poem (Canto XII from The Heights of Macchu Picchu by Pablo Neruda )

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  • Dr.subhendu Kar (7/25/2010 4:01:00 PM)

    control the obscurity
    of our slumbering prowess
    with your relentless heart
    and the great ruff of your tail.............yet so ecstatic write that flows through ingenuity, words become wordless as the cat measure`s its sport of entry by its majestic mustache, superb portrayal making wide and open by claws of contents, ,

    5 person liked.
    5 person did not like.
  • john tiong chunghoo (7/1/2006 3:57:00 AM)

    my share pablo;

    from the alleyway
    two the cats in
    earsplitting ecstasy/orgaism

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