Poetry Friday is … here! Welcome to our Friday feast of poetry, friends.
We celebrated becoming empty nesters by adopting a kitten from our local animal shelter. My husband and I claimed that the reason for this insanity was because we wanted to give our dog, Sophie, some companionship while we’re off at work all day. The real reason (and I don’t think we fooled anyone) is that we wanted the company for ourselves, too. Having always had cats, usually more than one at time, we rather missed having them around. So, one of our last winter break acts as a family was to bring home Gepetto (no one at the shelter remembered why he earned this name, but it’s a keeper):
Unfortunately, Sophie has some misgivings:
But, she will adjust, with the passage of time…and lots of extra treats. Having a cat around again is delightful and great fun. Our’s is a personality, and I think that T.S. Eliot is quite right in that “cats are much like you or me”:
THE AD-DRESSING OF CATS
You’ve read of several kinds of Cat,
And my opinion now is that
You should need no interpreter
To understand their character.
You now have learned enough to see
That Cats are much like you and me
And other people whom we find
Possessed of various types of mind.
For some are sane and some are mad
And some are good and some are bad
And some are better, some are worse –
But all may be described in verse.
You’ve seen them both at work and games,
And learnt about their proper names,
Their habits and their habitat:
How would you ad-dress a Cat?
So first, your memory I’ll jog,
And say: A CAT IS NOT A DOG.
Now Dogs pretend they like to fight;
They often bark, more seldom bite;
But yet a Dog is, on the whole,
What you would call a simple soul.
Of course I’m not including Pekes,
And such fantastic canine freaks.
The usual Dog about the Town
Is much inclined to play the clown,
And far from showing too much pride
Is frequently undignified.
He’s very easily taken in –
Just chuck him underneath the chin
Or slap his back or shake his paw,
And he will gambol and guffaw.
He’s such an easy-going lout,
He’ll answer any hail or shout.
Again I must remind you that
A Dog’s a Dog — A CAT’S A CAT.
With Cats, some say, one rule is true:
Don’t speak till you are spoken to.
Myself, I do not hold with that –
I say, you should ad-dress a Cat.
But always keep in mind that he
I bow, and taking off my hat,
Ad-dress him in this form: O CAT!
But if he is the Cat next door,
Whom I have often met before
(He comes to see me in my flat)
I greet him with an OOPSA CAT!
I’ve heard them call him James Buz-James –
But we’ve not got so far as names.
Before a Cat will condescend
To treat you as a trusted friend,
Some little token of esteem
Is needed, like a dish of cream;
And you might now and then supply
Some caviare, or Strassburg Pie,
Some potted grouse, or salmon paste –
He’s sure to have his personal taste.
(I know a Cat, who makes a habit
Of eating nothing else but rabbit,
And when he’s finished, licks his paws
So’s not to waste the onion sauce.)
A Cat’s entitled to expect
These evidences of respect.
And so in time you reach your aim,
And finally call him by his NAME.
So this is this, and that is that:
And there’s how you AD-DRESS A CAT.
Here is Eliot himself reading the poem in his interesting American-English accent:
And here, for good measure, is Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical interpretation from “Cats”:
Since Poetry Friday is a teaching day, I’ve enlisted the help of Mr. Linky to ensure that our poetry contributions receive prompt attention. Happy Poetry Friday, everyone!!