My valiant helper, a small-sized tiger
Sleeps sweetly on my desk, by the computer,
Unaware that you insult his tribe.
Cats play with a mouse or with a half-dead mole.
You are wrong, though: it’s not out of cruelty.
They simply like a thing that moves.
For, after all, we know that only consciousness
Can for a moment move into the Other,
Empathize with the pain and panic of a mouse.
And such as cats are, all of Nature is.
Indifferent, alas, to the good and the evil.
Quite a problem for us, I am afraid.
Natural history has its museums,
But why should our children learn about monsters,
An earth of snakes and reptiles for millions of years?
Nature devouring, nature devoured,
Butchery day and night smoking with blood.
And who created it? Was it the good Lord?
Yes, undoubtedly, they are innocent,
Spiders, mantises, sharks, pythons.
We are the only ones who say: cruelty.
Our consciousness and our conscience
Alone in the pale anthill of galaxies
Put their hope in a humane God.
Who cannot but feel and think,
Who is kindred to us by his warmth and movement,
For we are, as he told us, similar to Him.
Yet if it is so, then He takes pity
On every mauled mouse, every wounded bird.
Then the universe for him is like a Crucifixion.
Such is the outcome of your attack on the cat:
A theological, Augustinian grimace,
Which makes difficult our walking on this earth.
—Translated by the author and Robert Hass
March 23, 1995