“Was this the puss that munched a thousand mice
And napped atop the towers of Ilium? ….”
excerpt from Mephistopheles by Christopher Marlow’s Cat
“In Xanadu did Kubla Kat
A splendid sofa-bed decree
With silken cushions soft and fat
A perfect feline habitat…”
excerpt from Kula Kat by Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Cat
Henry Beard’s Poetry for Cats, The Definitive Anthology of Distinguished Feline Verse, is a must for literate cats and their humans, especially if said humans love cats as much as they love poetry. Beard does a fine job with his parodies, keeping the meter and rhyme of original poem and capturing the idiosyncrasies of cats in the way that only someone who lives with them and loves them could. The book is dedicated to Serafina – “il miglior gatto” – the best cat. That says it all, doesn’t it?
“And though your human sweetly calls his pet
Or rants and raves until his face is blue,
do not go peaceable to that damn vet,
Hide, hide, when your appointment time is set.”
excerpt from Do Not Go Peaceable to That Damn Vet by Dylan Thomas’s Cat
The book includes some forty parodies of poems by poets of renown including Chaucer, Donne, Blake, Shelley, Kilmer, Ransom, Nash and Ginsberg and three she-poets: Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Emily Dickenson and Gertrude Stein.
The elders among us will remember American humorist Henry Beard (b. 1945) as one of the founders of National Lampoon. His other cat-books include French for Cats, A Cat’s Night Before Christmas and Zen for Cats. More recent books are Encyclopedia Paranoiaca (great satire) with Christopher Cerf, a book on golf, and The Dick Cheney Code.
Poetry for Cats is well-crafted and just plain fun, relief in a world that is forever dishing up strife and stress. No spewing hairballs on this one. Dahlia gave it a paws-up and her humans – my son and daughter-in-law – loved it too. It makes a sweet gift, which it was in this case.
Thanks to Embarcadero Jack for photographing Dahlia reading.