Sunday, March 12, 2017

Poetry for Cats

Poetry for Cats: The Definitive Anthology of Distinguished Feline Verse. Henry Beard. 1994. 96 pages. [Source: Borrowed.]

Premise/plot: Ever wonder what kind of poetry cats would write? What about the cats of famous poets?! In Henry Beard's Poetry for Cats he writes in the style (and punctuation) of some really famous poets from the perspective of their cats.
To go outside, and there perchance to stay/ Or to remain within: that is the question...William Shakespeare's cat
Vet, be not proud, though thou canst make cats die/ Thou livest but one life, while we live nine,/ And if our lives were half as bleak as thine,/ We would not seek from thy cold grasp to fly. John Donne's cat
How do I break thee? Let me count the ways. Elizabeth Barrett Browning's cat
If you can disappear when all about you/ Are madly searching for you everywhere,/ And then just when they start to leave without you,/ Turn up as if you always were right there;/ If you can shed your hair in any season,/ And cough up half of all that you devour,/ And rush from room to room without a reason,/ Then sit and stare at nothing for an hour; Rudyard Kipling's cat
Do not go peaceable to that damn vet,/ A cat can always tell a trip is due,/ Hide, hide, when your appointment time is set. Dylan Thomas's cat
My thoughts: I thought this one was very well done overall. I would have loved to see a list at the end pointing readers back to the original poems being parodied. I knew some of them--maybe even half of them. But I wasn't equally familiar with all of the poets being imitated. For cat lovers with an English degree, this is a very fun treat!

My favorite poem was without a doubt the one by Rudyard Kipling's cat! The whole poem is wonderful! I wish I could share it all. I thought the poem by Geoffrey Chaucer's cat was clever. "She thinketh that no Canterbury mous/ Be worth an expeditioun from hir hous,/" It also includes words like yschlept and sawgh. If you've attempted the original, how could you help grinning at this imitation? And it is easier to unpack, by the way!

I won't focus on each poem, but many of them are worth reading and rereading.

A few might be worth sharing with the whole family, but this isn't necessarily kid-appropriate book.

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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