Wednesday, August 27, 2008

More Cat Poetry-- Light and Fluffy

domestic panther
Originally uploaded by novon
Who can resist The Naming of Cats-- unless you don't like cats. I'm pretty sure you don't have to be a poetry aficionado to love this one as
I've loved it longer than I've loved poetry.
Here it is, if you've never read it. Read it aloud. It's more fun that way.

The Naming of Cats
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.

I'm sure there are other collections that have inspired musicals somewhere in the world, but I don't know of any. I've seen Cats twice and it's an experience I can highly recommend.


  1. Mmmmm, Eliot. I used to like Old Possum's Practical Cats more, till I started getting old and finding more depth and pathos in stuff like Prufrock.
    Patiently etherized...but still grinning.

  2. I've never read that poem, but I loved it. And I kick myself for not going to see the musical Cats when they came to Dallas. Argh! Maybe someday...


  3. Poetry beings so many smiles. Recognition, ah-ha moments, tribute to beauty smiles. Prufrock has his moments but sometimes you need a silly smile!

    Susan-- I'm so glad you loved it! Next time you get a chance to see Cats jump on it!