Sometimes Love Can Stand No Other: The Love Story of Asim and Melati

She was everybody’s hope. He was his own.

He had been caged for 224 years,

a fearsome symmetrical number,

71 free to roam the mirror forest night canopy,

a tyger yearning to be a true tiger and not a Tigger,

a lonely pacing streak of orange and black

hungering to be proudly the last of his kind.

She lived all her life, a London darling,

a jasmine flower never knowing an Asian sun—

and she was their jewel in the crown.

He was brought to her on a Rajah’s throne,

named to be her protector, guardian, defender;

ten days of chuffing convinced all they were right.

He was famished. He could never be hers.

And when the glass that separated them opened,

and he no longer saw the reflection of himself,

and just prey, a ray of the little lamb

he thought and always knew was there,

he did what tigers were born to do:

He pounced. He ate. He created death.

She was everybody’s hope. He was his own.

Note:

It helps to know some William Blake poetry and English imperialist history to get at some of the meanings in this poem. The poem is based on a news story about two tigers in a London zoo who were intended to be perfect mates for each, but ended with the male, Asim killing the female, Melati.