mércores, 31 de agosto de 2016

o gato negro

FOR the most wild, yet most homely narrative which I am about to pen, I neither expect nor solicit belief. Mad indeed would I be to expect it, in a case where my very senses reject their own evidence. Yet, mad am I not - and very surely do I not dream. But to-morrow I die, and to-day I would unburthen my soul. My immediate purpose is to place before the world, plainly, succinctly, and without comment, a series of mere household events. In their consequences, these events have terrified - have tortured - have destroyed me. Yet I will not attempt to expound them. To me, they have presented little but Horror - to many they will seem less terrible than barroques. Hereafter, perhaps, some intellect may be found which will reduce my phantasm to the common-place - some intellect more calm, more logical, and far less excitable than my own, which will perceive, in the circumstances I detail with awe, nothing more than an ordinary succession of very natural causes and effects.

From my infancy I was noted for the docility and humanity of my disposition. My tenderness of heart was even so conspicuous as to make me the jest of my companions. I was especially fond of animals, and was indulged by my parents with a great variety of pets. With these I spent most of my time, and never was so happy as when feeding and caressing them. This peculiarity of character grew with my growth, and, in my manhood, I derived from it one of my principal sources of pleasure. To those who have cherished an affection for a faithful and sagacious dog, I need hardly be at the trouble of explaining the nature or the intensity of the gratification thus derivable. There is something in the unselfish and self-sacrificing love of a brute, which goes directly to the heart of him who has had frequent occasion to test the paltry friendship and gossamer fidelity of mere Man.

I married early, and was happy to find in my wife a disposition not uncongenial with my own. Observing my partiality for domestic pets, she lost no opportunity of procuring those of the most agreeable kind. We had birds, gold-fish, a fine dog, rabbits, a small monkey, and a cat.

This latter was a remarkably large and beautiful animal, entirely black, and sagacious to an astonishing degree. In speaking of his intelligence, my wife, who at heart was not a little tinctured with superstition, made frequent allusion to the ancient popular notion, which regarded all black cats as witches in disguise. Not that she was ever serious upon this point - and I mention the matter at all for no better reason than that it happens, just now, to be remembered.

Pluto - this was the cat's name - was my favorite pet and playmate. I alone fed him, and he attended me wherever I went about the house. It was even with difficulty that I could prevent him from following me through the streets.

Our friendship lasted, in this manner, for several years, during which my general temperament and character - through the instrumentality of the Fiend Intemperance - had (I blush to confess it) experienced a radical alteration for the worse. I grew, day by day, more moody, more irritable, more regardless of the feelings of others. I suffered myself to use intemperate language to my wife. At length, I even offered her personal violence. My pets, of course, were made to feel the change in my disposition. I not only neglected, but ill-used them. For Pluto, however, I still retained sufficient regard to restrain me from maltreating him, as I made no scruple of maltreating the rabbits, the monkey, or even the dog, when by accident, or through affection, they came in my way. But my disease grew upon me - for what disease is like Alcohol! - and at length even Pluto, who was now becoming old, and consequently somewhat peevish - even Pluto began to experience the effects of my ill temper.

One night, returning home, much intoxicated, from one of my haunts about town, I fancied that the cat avoided my presence. I seized him; when, in his fright at my violence, he inflicted a slight wound upon my hand with his teeth. The fury of a demon instantly possessed me. I knew myself no longer. My original soul seemed, at once, to take its flight from my body; and a more than fiendish malevolence, gin-nurtured, thrilled every fibre of my frame. I took from my 
waistcoat-pocket a pen-knife, opened it, grasped the poor beast by the throat, and deliberately cut one of its eyes from the socket! I blush, I burn, I shudder, while I pen the damnable atrocity.

When reason returned with the morning - when I had slept off the fumes of the night's debauch - I experienced a sentiment half of horror, half of remorse, for the crime of which I had been guilty; but it was, at best, a feeble and equivocal feeling, and the soul remained untouched. I again plunged into excess, and soon drowned in wine all memory of the deed.

In the meantime the cat slowly recovered. The socket of the lost eye presented, it is true, a frightful appearance, but he no longer appeared to suffer any pain. He went about the house as usual, but, as might be expected, fled in extreme terror at my approach. I had so much of my old heart left, as to be at first grieved by this evident dislike on the part of a creature which had once so loved me. But this feeling soon gave place to irritation. And then came, as if to my final and irrevocable overthrow, the spirit of PERVERSENESS. Of this spirit philosophy takes no account. Yet I am not more sure that my soul lives, than I am that perverseness is one of the primitive impulses of the human heart - one of the indivisible primary faculties, or sentiments, which give direction to the character of Man. Who has not, a hundred times, found himself committing a vile or a silly action, for no other reason than because he knows he should not? Have we not a perpetual inclination, in the teeth of our best judgment, to violate that which is Law, merely because we understand it to be such? This spirit of perverseness, I say, came to my final overthrow. It was this unfathomable longing of the soul to vex itself - to offer violence to its own nature - to do wrong for the wrong's sake only - that urged me to continue and finally to consummate the injury I had inflicted upon the unoffending brute. One morning, in cool blood, I slipped a noose about its neck and hung it to the limb of a tree; - hung it with the tears streaming from my eyes, and with the bitterest remorse at my heart; - hung it because I knew that it had loved me, and because I felt it had given me no reason of offence; - hung itbecause I knew that in so doing I was committing a sin - a deadly sin that would so jeopardize my immortal soul as to place it - if such a thing were possible - even beyond the reach of the infinite mercy of the Most Merciful and Most Terrible God.

On the night of the day on which this cruel deed was done, I was aroused from sleep by the cry of fire. The curtains of my bed were in flames. The whole house was blazing. It was with great difficulty that my wife, a servant, and myself, made our escape from the conflagration. The destruction was complete. My entire worldly wealth was swallowed up, and I resigned myself thenceforward to despair. (...)

The Black Cat
Edgar Allan Poe

traducido ao galego como

O gato negro
por Carlos Acevedo
Aula das Letras, Vicens Vives

Para o brutal e ao mesmo tempo doméstico relato que vou escribir, nin espero nin pido credulidade. Tolo sería eu se tal cousa esperase nun caso en que os meus propios sentidos rexeitan o que perciben. Non obstante, tolo non son, e desde logo tampouco estou a soñar. Mais vou morrer maña, e hoxe gustaríame aliviar o péso que carga a miña alma. O meu propósito inmediato consiste en expor aos ollos do mundo de xeito simple, sucinto' e sen comentarios, unha serie de meros acontecementos domésticos cuxas consecuencias me aterrorizaron, me torturaron, me destruíron. Mais non tentarei explicalos. Para min non supuxeron máis ca un horror; a moitos pareceranlles máis grotescos ca terribles. No futuro, talvez exista algunha mente que reduza a miña fantasmagoría a banalidade; algunha mente máis calma, máis lóxica e moito menos excitable ca a miña, e que perciba nas circunstancias que con espanto describo unha ordinaria sucesión de naturalísimas causas e efectos.

Desde a infancia destaques sempre polo meu natural dócil e humano. A miña tenrura de corazón era tan conspicua que suscitaba a mofa dos meus compañeiros. Tíñalles especial afecto aos animais, e os meus pais consentíanme ter unha gran variedade de mascotas. Con elas pasaba a maior parte do meu tempo, e a miña felicidade era insuperable cando lles daba de comer e lles facía festas. Tal peculiaridade do meu carácter foi crecendo comigo e, sendo xa un home, obtiven dela unha das principais fontes de pracer. Aos que algunha vez sentiron afecto por un fiel e sagaz can apenas teño que molestarme en explicarlles a natureza e a intensidade da gratificación que se pode obter. Hai algo no xeneroso e sacrificado amor dun animal que vas dereito ao corazón daquel que tivo con frecuencia a ocasión de probar a ruin amizade e a fráxil fidelidade do home.

Cases cedo, e tiven a fortuna de encontrar na miña muller un carácter afín ao meu. Ela, tras observar a miña querenza polos animáis de compañía, non perdeu a ocasión de buscar aqueles que resultan máis agradables. Tiñamos paxaros, peixiños de cores, un bo can, coellos, un pequeno mono e mais un gato.

Este último era un animal considerablemente grande e fermoso, totalmente negro, e sagaz até un punto abraiante. Canto á súa intelixencia, a miña muller, que no fondo estaba algo impregnada de superstición, facía frecuentes alusións á antiga crenza popular de que os gatos negros son meigas disfrazadas. Non é que ela tomase en serio esta cuestión, e se a menciono non é por outra razón que porque acabo de recordala agora mesmo.

Plutón, pois ese era o seu nome, era a miña mascota e o meu compañeiro favorito. Só lle daba de comer eu, e seguíame a onde queira que fose dentro da casa. Mesmo me resultaba difícil impedirlle que me seguise pola rúa.

A nosa amizade durou desta maneira varios anos, durante os cales o meu temperamento e o meu carácter, por causa da intemperanza no beberá -e ruborízome ao confesalo-, experimentaran un radical empeoramento. Co pasar dos días, fun tornándome máis amargado, máis irascible, máis indiferente perante os sentimentos alleos. Dei en tratar a miña esposa cunha linguaxe desapropiada. E por fin acabei tratándoa con violencia. Os meus animais, sobra dicilo, tiveron que padecer a miña mudanza de carácter. Non só os tiña abandonados, senón que os maltrataba. Non obstante, a Plutón seguía téndolle consideración suficiente para refrearme no maltrato, mentres que non tiña escrúpulo ningún á hora de maltratar os coellos, o mono ou mesmo o can cando por accidente, ou por afecto, se interpuñan no meu camiño. Mais a miña doenza foi a peor -e que doenza é o alcohol! Ao final, mesmo Plutón, que xa la vello e, por tanto, se tornara un pouco irritable, mesmo Plutón comezou a experimentar os efectos do meu mal temperamento.

Unha noite, de volta na casa moi bébedo, procedente dun dos meus paradoiros da vila, tiven a sensación de que o gato evitaba a miña presenza. Agarreino e entón, atemorizado coa miña violencia, inflixiume cos dentes unha leve ferida na man. Decontado apoderouse de min unha furia demoníaca. Xa non era eu. Semellaba que a alma me escapara do corpo e unha crudelísima maldade, nutrida de xenebra, excitou até a última fibra do meu ser. Tires do peto do chaleco unha navalla, abrina, agarres a coitada criatura polo pescozo e deliberadamente arrinqueille un ollo da órbita! Ruborízome, desespérome, arrepíome ao escribir tan abominables atrocidade.

Cando recuperes a razón pola mañá, despois de durmir os efluvios do meu desenfreo nocturno, experimentes unha sensación a medio camiño entre o horror e o remorso polo crime do cal era culpable. Mais tratábase, como moito, dun sentimento feble e equívoco, e a alma quedárame intacta. Entregueime de novo ao, exceso e logo afoguei en vino toda lembranza do feito.

Entrementres, o gato foi recuperándose de maneira paulatina. A tunca do ollo ausente presentaba un aspecto espantoso, mais o animal non parecía sufrir xa dor ningunha. Andaba pola casa como de costume, pero, como cabería esperar, fuxía espavorecido ante a miña proximidade. Ao principio aínda me quedaba bastante corazón para sentir pena ante a evidente animadversión' por parte dunha criatura que outrora tanto me quixera. Mais tal sentimento axiña deixou paso á irritación. E despois chegou, para a miña definitiva e irrevogable perdición, o espírito da perversidade. Deste espírito a filosofía non dá conta. Non obstante, estou tan certo de que a miña alma existe como de que a perversidade é un dos impulsos primitivos da condición humana, unha das indivisibles facultades ou sentimentos primarios que guían o carácter do home. Quen non cometeu nun cento de ocasións algunha acción vil ou estúpida, sen outra razón que o feito de saber que non debería cometela? Acaso non ternos unha inclinación constante, e oposta ao noso bo entendemento, a violarmos a lei, simplemente porque sabemos que é a lei? O espírito da perversidade, como dicía, ven para traerme a perdición definitiva. E foi esta inconmensurable querenza da alma por degradarse, por empregar a violencia contra a súa propia natureza, por facer o mal polo mal, o que me instou a continuar e finalmente consumar o dano que en lle inflixira ao inocente animal. Unha mañá, a sangue frío, púxenlle un lazo arredor do pescozo e afórqueino colgándoo da galla dunha árbore; aforqueino coas lágrimas a caerme dos ollos e co máis amargo remorso no corazón; aforqueino porque sabía que el me amara, e porque sentía que el non me dera ningún motivo de ofensa; aforqueino porque sabía que así cometía pecado, un pecado mortal que había de pór en perigo a miña alma inmortal deixándoa -se tal cousa é posible- alén do alcance da infinita misericordia do Deus máis misericordioso e terrible.

Durante a noite daquela xornada en que se cometeu esta crueldade, acordei do sono cos berros que avisaban dun incendio. As cortinas do meu dormitorio estaban a arder. Toda a casa estaba en chamas. Con gran dificultade, a miña muller, un criado e eu escapamos da conflagración. A desfeita foi completa. Todas as minas riquezas mundanas quedaron devoradas, e desde entón entregueime á desesperación. (...)