Thursday, January 01, 2009

A New Year and Cats

I have very little to offer by way of good wishes for 2009. My best hope is that it will be a sort of an average year, better than 2008, worse than 2010. But the writing on the wall does not seem to support so much optimism.

So instead of wishes, I'll give you a gift. Or rather, re-gift 2 feline monologues offered by British poet George Szirtes to his blog readers. It's about cats, and anyone who owns a cat, as I do, knows that cats are inscrutable, mysterious beings, cute and human in one way, predatory and snobbish in another way. GS seems to possess a rare Vulcanian empathy with cats, so he was kind enough to share with us what he observed once he climbed into his cats' minds and walked about in them for a bit:


I am constantly hungry. Each time you move I think of my hunger.
I like your company. It assures me I will be fed.
I like your smell which is the smell of security,
But those other smells of those others, that now and then blow in,
They too hold the promise of food, of things at the edge of my imagination
Which delights in exploration, not only in food,
Because I am not a creature of one dimension only
As you can see in my eyes where other dimensions are moving,
Those I think of as ghosts, the ghosts of prey, the ghosts
Of sex, of moonlight and its homely territories,
The ghosts of comfort, closed spaces, of broods I might mother
Or might have once, who would then have required feeding,
So when I hunger, I hunger also for them.
Touch me, just there, at the neck, by the ears. Touch me
When I want to be touched, smoothing down my back
Especially at night when you speak to me and say: bed,
Which is not my favourite word or place but where
I welcome touch, the firm scratch at neck, by ears,
To see me through night when I hunger,
The hunger so sharp I could smash down the door
Which is always against me, every night locked against me.


Danger! Quiver. Hold. Creep. Hold. Flick. Lost. Danger. Hide. Hide now. Eat. Gut. Must out. Must. Dart. The sweet smell of scrunched chocolate wrapper. Bladder. The dangling feather. If I sit here a while… Dart! Danger! I am flame! I am lost! Burnt! Help! Hide! Hide away for ever!!

I trust you will enjoy these soliloquies.

Here are two poems about cats, by way of a bonus, and as an apology for not being able to offer happier wishes:

The Naming of Cats /TS Eliot

The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter,
It isn't just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I'm as mad as a hatter
When I tell you, a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES.
First of all, there's the name that the family use daily,
Such as Peter, Augustus, Alonzo or James,
Such as Victor or Jonathan, or George or Bill Bailey -
All of them sensible everyday names.
There are fancier names if you think they sound sweeter,
Some for the gentlemen, some for the dames:
Such as Plato, Admetus, Electra, Demeter -
But all of them sensible everyday names.
But I tell you, a cat needs a name that's particular,
A name that's peculiar, and more dignified,
Else how can he keep up his tail perpendicular,
Or spread out his whiskers, or cherish his pride?
Of names of this kind, I can give you a quorum,
Such as Munkustrap, Quaxo, or Coricopat,
Such as Bombalurina, or else Jellylorum -
Names that never belong to more than one cat.
But above and beyond there's still one name left over,
And that is the name that you never will guess;
The name that no human research can discover -
But THE CAT HIMSELF KNOWS, and will never confess.
When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:
His ineffable effable
Deep and inscrutable singular Name.

Le chat/ Guillaume Apollinaire

Je souhaite dans ma maison:
Une femme ayant sa raison,
Un chat passant parmi les livres,
Des amis en toute saison
Sans lesquels je ne peux pas vivre.


At 2:01 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy New Year to you and yours.

I remain cautiously optimistic...



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