Issa’s cat dreams… part 1


So am I a cat
dreaming I’m a butterfly
or really flying?

After eating a big fish all to himself – Issa’s cat definitely needed a bit of a nap and big meals can make for the most interesting dreams!

I thought I’d try writing my own haiku this time – Issa’s cat’s dream is based on the famous Chinese philosopher Chuang Tsu (Zhuangzi) story. One day he dreamt he was a butterfly. When he awoke he was no longer sure if he was a man who had dreamt he was a butterfly or a butterfly now dreaming he was a man.

As always, comments and alternate poetic responses are welcome!

image and haiku (cc) 2009 Hilary Farmer

9 thoughts on “Issa’s cat dreams… part 1

  1. Lewis and his friend Lloyd enjoyed sitting down and debating philosophical questions together. Lloyd would always win the argument, except one time, when they were talking about Zhuangzi’s butterfly story. Lloyd’s position was categorical: “it’s impossible to know whether you are dreaming or actually awake.”

    Lewis could not agree. Clearly, one knows when one is dreaming. Or at the very least, one knows if one is NOT dreaming. On that day, Lewis’ mind was fast and sharp. The right words came to him. He was able to refute Lloyd’s assertions and to offer a beautifully crafted series of counter-arguments, each so logical and well articulated that Lloyd finally had to admit he was wrong.

    For the first time, Lewis was winning the argument. That’s when he suddenly woke up, alone, in the middle of the night. Lloyd was defeating him, even in his dreams.

    (I’m telling the story with my words, but someone else thought it up. If anyone knows the original words or author, I’d be curious to know!)

  2. Fabulous! I simply love the butterfly wings on the cat, and the way the legs dangle!

    Just showed it to Tim, and his reaction was the same, with the typically laconic comment, “It’s good.”

    1. Thanks – and thanks Tim 🙂
      I was giggling as I was doing the sketches for this one. I was picturing the cat as if being picked up by a small child and not knowing quite what to make of it… I thought suddenly having wings might have a similar feeling.

      1. The posture of the flying cat definitely captures the sense of being picked up by a child.

        Here’s an alternative haiku, although I think yours is more appropriate to the image:

        Before a cat sleeps
        Folding its butterfly wings
        It asks: “Will I dream?”

        I wanted to try to capture the ambiguity of the dream-state perspective, but it may just be incoherent!

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