Tomislav Marijan Bilosnic
THE TIGER IS THE WORLD
Translated from Croatian
by Durda Vukelic-Roic and Karl Kvitko
114 pages, $15
OUT OF PRINT
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Read selections from The Tiger is the World
The Tiger Is the World is a cycle of poems and prose-poems in five parts inspired by the ferocity, willfulness and magnificent physical presence of the tiger. By turns playful, dark, autobiographical, rapturous and mystical, the poems seek the nature of the tiger, who comes to the poet and takes over his heart and his mind. In his love and awe of the tiger, the distinguished Croatian poet Tomislav Marijan Bilosnic speaks in ways that transcend ordinary comprehension, describing the dominance of the tiger in the jungle, his loneliness, his character as the foundation for human life, his incorporation into human speech and culture, his distortion and persecution by mankind and his ultimate extinction.
The five sections are: I. The Tiger Speaks From My Mouth, II. The Tiger's Eyes, III. The Tiger's Dream, IV. Be A Tiger, V. The Tiger At Midnight. The book concludes with notes on the author and the two translators.
Selections: from The Tiger is the World
Poet Tomislav Marijan Bilosnic
THE TIGER IN THE MARKET
They didn't give me a single toy. They didn't think I needed one. No one told them one way or the other. My summers were spent in the dust of winter on ice that cracked easily under the bura.* I thought I'd never survive childhood. Others had doubts in me too.
When finally I did grow up, I felt thousands of years old. Not a single amazing thing had happened. The time was devoid of memories, until one day in the market, when buying something to drink, I happened upon a plush tiger.
The sun I'd forgotten existed shone out from his markings, and instantly I knew I'd experience everything there is to experience in love. He returned me to the refuge of childhood, brought me comfort and restored my optimism.
Finally I was able to roar and to sing, to strike out with my pack, to nourish my soul and my body with blood.
* The bura is the north wind blowing through the Velebit mountain range. In the winter it blows more than a hundred miles an hour, scattering the clouds and cleansing the air.
THE TIGER IS FATHER TO MY DREAM
The tiger is father to my dream,
but scarcely acknowledges me.
He is the lord, he is the leader,
and doesn't care about anyone,
and doesn't want me to speak of him.
He is bellicose and severe.
I don't remember him;
he doesn't recognize me.
He always keeps me out of his home,
far from the pathways he uses.
For him I'm difficult
He's not used to talking
About his property
I must not think at all.
He forbids me to look at it,
even though it surrounds me.
MY TIGER NAME
Men are brothers to tigers;
there is a link between them.
They have dreams together,
not knowing if they dream.
Hidden from my dearest ones,
I go by my tiger name,
set out on a test of courage,
hiding well my tracks.
My family awaits my decision;
those who love me wait for a sign
in the great sky of light.
Consummation is union
with the creator of all that lives.
Now I'm the one who rescues,
I'm the one no one can catch,
I'm the new warrior,
the new tiger-man.
The ancient brotherhood is revived.
The song of the jungle reaches me.
My transformation is complete,
my quest realized, and no one but I
knows what has happened.
THE TIGER SPEAKS FROM MY MOUTH
A tiger with a yellow nose licks my face, speaks from my mouth things that are wrapped around my heart. Like a cataract, his tongue sticks to my eyes. Night after night he comes to light the candle, stirring up my lifeblood.
LUCKY THE MAN WHO HAS A TIGER
Lucky the man who has a tiger,
who can ride him,
who can comb him,
who can survive his bite.
He knows what it means to be happy,
he knows what it means to be strong,
better than any other creature in the world.
The man who has a tiger
has someone to protect him,
someone to tremble before him,
someone who dreams about him.
When a man stands abreast of the tiger,
he feels the healing of the world,
he feels the waking of the dead,
he feels the mountains and all their forests
begin to blush with love.
Lucky the man who is a tiger:
he can locate himself
in countless other bodies.
THE TIGER IN THE HEART OF SUMMER
In the heart of summer, charmed by the game, huge and violent, the tiger stirs up life while peace shines all around.
The game draws him into a world like himself while he's still dreaming, stretched out in the meadow among the leaves, then jumping up at waking time.
The tiger's panting gives voice to light. He rises up, drawing strength from the summer, taking delight in the chirping that announces his arrival, which is seen as a sharp ray of light breaking up as it passes over a stationary tree.
There he goesa great flash of lightning cutting through the scorching universe.
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