Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Tolkien's take on a cat

Last night when a bunch of us went Christmas caroling, first we gathered in the gracious home of my friends George and Anne Apfel in Williamsville. And we played with the Apfels' tiger kitten and we all talked about our cats, including our Jeoffry, pictured above.

Well, everyone talked about cats except our friend Ryan, who is not a cat owner. Three cheers for Ryan, who puts up with us!

Today I found this poem. Someone had posted it as a comment to a story the Atlantic Monthly ran about why cats will always be a little bit wild.

The poem is by J.R.R. Tolkien. I never really got into "The Lord of the Rings" but I have a deep affinity for Tolkien because he loved the Tridentine Latin Mass the way I do (and the way Leonard Pennario did). When the Mass turned to English, Tolkien would always insist on giving the responses in Latin. Requiescat in pace, dear poet. Next time we sing "Adeste Fideles" it will be for you.

And now the poem:

"Cat" by J. R. R. Tolkien

The fat cat on the mat
may seem to dream
of nice mice that suffice
for him, or cream;
but he free, maybe,
walks in thought
unbowed, proud, where loud
roared and fought
his kin, lean and slim,
or deep in den
in the East feasted on beasts
and tender men.
The giant lion with iron
claw in paw,
and huge ruthless tooth
in gory jaw;
the pard dark-starred,
fleet upon feet,
that oft soft from aloft
leaps upon his meat
where woods loom in gloom --
far now they be,
fierce and free,
and tamed is he;
but fat cat on the mat
kept as a pet
he does not forget.

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