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Spring 2004

A Cat’s Last Summer

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Still the warblers forage, in silence,
In myrtle fragrance as August turns autumnal.

Day after day she sits
On the same patch of grass,
Her senses waning, the well-deep eyes enlarged
But not for seeing,
Her needle-sharp hearing blunted;
And Belsen-thin, ribs showing through,
So fearless now that when a cock pheasant
Struts at her, clucking, claims the terrain,
She neither deigns to flee
Nor makes to spring, as she could,
Agile enough, did a will impel her.

What she forgets is domesticity
And that affection paid
To nursing landlords, servant caterers
Whom by log fire, lamplight she sought out
For comfort, for their fondling,
Joined in their music, tail beating time, her time,
Bore with in electronic would-be worlds—
Lost to her now, receded
Like their, her, house that briefly she'll re-enter
Only to feed and, running, at once abandon
For her true home, the myrtle-scented season
Holding her yet, while she
Dies back as leaves do from the living tree.

Michael Hamburger

Michael Hamburger, who died in 2007, was a noted British poet and translator whose works included From a Diary of Non-Events and translations of Celan and Sebald.


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