Jorge Luis Borges was a poet, but he was also a dreamer of wild fiction, a thoughtful essayist, and—in all of his works—a philosopher. He was always pulling at the threads of perspective and reality, questioning his own point of view. In “The Other Tiger,” he marvels at the power of the creature in his mind’s eye, envisioned with such detail that he writes about the bony structure / that quivers under the glowing skin.
But the subject of the poem is not a tiger, real or imagined. It is the mind itself, pulling that idea of a tiger from a muddle of words, images, and references. That strange line between internal and external worlds fascinated Borges, who died in 1986, and the poem echoes one of his most famous quotes: “Time is a river that carries me away, but I am the river; it is a tiger that mangles me, but I am the tiger.”