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Other Tiger, The Analysis

Author: Poetry of Jorge Luis Borges Type: Poetry Views: 486

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A tiger comes to mind. The twilight here

Exalts the vast and busy Library

And seems to set the bookshelves back in gloom;

Innocent, ruthless, bloodstained, sleek

It wanders through its forest and its day

Printing a track along the muddy banks

Of sluggish streams whose names it does not know

(In its world there are no names or past

Or time to come, only the vivid now)

And makes its way across wild distances

Sniffing the braided labyrinth of smells

And in the wind picking the smell of dawn

And tantalizing scent of grazing deer;

Among the bamboo's slanting stripes I glimpse

The tiger's stripes and sense the bony frame

Under the splendid, quivering cover of skin.

Curving oceans and the planet's wastes keep us

Apart in vain; from here in a house far off

In South America I dream of you,

Track you, O tiger of the Ganges' banks.

It strikes me now as evening fills my soul

That the tiger addressed in my poem

Is a shadowy beast, a tiger of symbols

And scraps picked up at random out of books,

A string of labored tropes that have no life,

And not the fated tiger, the deadly jewel

That under sun or stars or changing moon

Goes on in Bengal or Sumatra fulfilling

Its rounds of love and indolence and death.

To the tiger of symbols I hold opposed

The one that's real, the one whose blood runs hot

As it cuts down a herd of buffaloes,

And that today, this August third, nineteen

Fifty-nine, throws its shadow on the grass;

But by the act of giving it a name,

By trying to fix the limits of its world,

It becomes a fiction not a living beast,

Not a tiger out roaming the wilds of earth.

We'll hunt for a third tiger now, but like

The others this one too will be a form

Of what I dream, a structure of words, and not

The flesh and one tiger that beyond all myths

Paces the earth. I know these things quite well,

Yet nonetheless some force keeps driving me

In this vague, unreasonable, and ancient quest,

And I go on pursuing through the hours

Another tiger, the beast not found in verse.


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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||

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Throughout The Other Tiger, Borges shares his thoughts on a fictitious tiger while directly comparing it to its realistic counterpart while making several connections to animal instinct. He does this through the use of cacophony, euphony, and countless metaphors which make The Other Tiger a powerful and thought-provoking work of prose.
It is clear after a preliminary reading of this poem that the tiger cannot possibly be viewed for its literal role in our reality, in fact Borges even claims that this tiger “Is a ghost of a tiger, a symbol, a series of literary tropes” (line 24-25), and when he mentions “the symbolic tiger I have opposed The real thing, with its warm blood,” (line 31-32). The idea of what this tiger is representing is entirely up to the reader and is therefore fairly insignificant to explain within a critique where an opinion is not to be shared.
The poem begins with heavy use of cacophony when the tiger is being described as “Strong, innocent, covered with blood and new,” (line 4). The cacophony really communicates an image to be created by the reader; rather than being read passively, it forces one to picture this tiger. That specific quote also uses the words “innocent” and “new” to juxtapose the surrounding descriptions of “strong” and “covered in blood” signifying a tiger’s innocence of allowing its actions to be determined by animal instinct unlike humans who are capable of compassion and making their own decisions.
Borges incorporates cacophony and euphony in one line when he contrasting the two types of tigers previously mentioned, “And not the deadly tiger, the fateful jewel” (line 27). There is a clear use of cacophony leading up to the comma, at which point there is a turn changing into the euphony of the symbolic tiger Borges is referencing as a “fateful jewel”.
There is no doubting the existence of any philosophical significance in The Other Tiger. The mentioning of a “third tiger” on line 40 shows that there will always be something out there “treading the earth” (line 45) that is yet to be discovered: an eighth wonder, a sixth sense, a third tiger.

| Posted on 2013-03-03 | by a guest

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Using euphony, cacophony, and caesuras, Borges attempts to define a tiger in The Other Tiger.
Having only ever read about tigers or seen them romanticized in other types of media, Borges forges tigers of his own creation using euphony and cacophony to depict the savagery and beauty of his objects. Borges uses euphony and cacophony in an artful way, using them to explain one another. The fascination he holds with tigers is in their incredible strength very way of living. He obsesses tigers with words sounding as brutal as their meaning, describing them as “ruthless”, “bony” (line 15), and “indolen{t}” (line 27). Even a tiger’s playground he envisions as being “muddy” (line 6), “sluggish” (line 7) and like a “labyrinth” (line 11). Pronouncing the words requires incredible diction, the hard, dark sounds painting a picture in sound of Borges’s tigers. The ugly cacophony, by itself, would drag this poem into a state of loathing. However, Borges uses carefully balanced euphony in explaining his feelings of anticipation before he thinks about tigers. As he first sits in a library, he seems at ease, calling the light not dusk, but instead “twilight” (line 1). As he thinks on tigers, the thought of them does not overwhelm his setting, but “exalts” (line 2) it making the library now appear “back in gloom” (line 3). His choice of vocabulary has a sense of excitement and wonder approaching the subject. This sets the scene for the cacophony to not be seen as violent and vulgar, but instead as the reason for his loving fascination of tigers.
In this poem, Borges undergoes three revisions of his tiger, separated artfully by caesuras. In this first stanza Borges describes a fantasy tiger. The tiger is sleek and proudly indifferent to anything outside its realm. The tiger he writes seeks smells and wades in lazy water, though all remaining poised and perfect. The caesura serves here as a break in his thinking. It is a pause to introduce his next realization: that his tiger is composed of a thousand depictions in a thousand different novels. His next idea is different enough that it would be inappropriate to include it with the first one. His new tiger he dreams as being more practical, one with hot blood who hunts buffalo. It is a tiger who travels through India and whose world is not contained within what predetermined by existing literature. As this idea ends, another caesura is put into place. This once, slightly larger than the last splits and prepares the reader for the last idea. Borges reflects and decides that while he will always search for his tiger, a tiger that he writes will always be false; there is not a way to include everything that a tiger is within words. The caesuras are particularly needed in this piece because the poem itself is not one linear form of thinking. The space between the stanzas serves as a moment of silence, the breath before judgement. After the pause Borges then contradicts and revises his statements. The breaks in thinking and the reflection are what finally bring him to his final point; that his tiger will never be real.

| Posted on 2011-01-04 | by a guest

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