My son is coming up to his GCSEs. For those who are unaware, GCSEs are the national standardised exams, usually taken at the age of 16 by everyone. Schools are marked on how well their students do, and funding is allocated accordingly. Students have access to further courses limited by their GCSE scores. I sometimes think that there is more pressure on these classes than the bottom of the Mariana Trench.
With most of the subjects I just nod, smile and encourage. It’s all changed since I was sitting the equivalent, back in the eighties, and I was never much good at the STEM subjects that my son enjoys. The only time that I would venture a slight opinion is on English Literature. I am deeply envious of the works that he has to study. My son has Macbeth (a lovely, meaty play), An Inspector Calls, A Christmas Carol and a selection of poetry.
I don’t head to poetry regularly. I have old-fashioned and, I suspect, shallow tastes. I do enjoy it, though. Years ago I had a huge tome of poetry that was mainly nineteenth century English poetry with a few outliers. It got me fascinated by Shelley, gave me an appreciation of Byron, and made me very comfortable with rhyming poetry – not necessarily a good thing. I suspect that I miss out on a lot.
However it did give me a few pieces that will always warm my heart. The first poem in the book was called ‘My Cat Jeoffrey’ by Christopher Smart (1722-1771). I believe he wrote it in a lunatic asylum, and he later died in a debtors’ prison, so it wasn’t the most logical poem to come out of the Enlightenment. On the other hand, it is awesome for all those owned by cats. The poem doesn’t rhyme, doesn’t scan and doesn’t entirely make sense. In other words – it’s perfect for cats. For me, the best line is – ‘For he can spraggle upon waggle upon the word of command.’ Every cat owner knows exactly what that means and it is a wonderful way to describe a cat turning itself inside out for the sheer pleasure of it.
I hope that you feel able to click on the link above, and perhaps even browse around the poems on the site. The poem is a little long for me to put on here, so I have made do with a link and added my somewhat inferior contribution to cat poetry. And thank you for visiting this page. After browsing around the poetry, I feel encouraged to spend an evening expanding my poetic knowledge, so thank you for giving me the opportunity to be inspired.
My little lovely tabby is looking rather sweet.
The elegant and tabby tail is curled around her feet.
Expressionless she looks at me with bland and secret eyes,
Assured the plate of sausages was dinner in disguise.
I want to read the paper but my lap is occupied.
A tabby cat is dozing so I’ve put my read aside,
And though it’s really painful as the claws are sinking in,
The sound of cat contentment keeps me tickling her chin.
It’s as if a dozen devils are fighting on the floor,
And a screwed up piece of paper is tossed from paw to paw.
It’s thrown, bit and fought and then chased across the stairs,
Then the tabby runs in panic from a fright that isn’t there.
My cat lies soft in sunlight and her fur is golden bright,
Her eyes are slits of slumber as she turns into the light,
She stretches like a lion sprawled who drowses in the heat,
And dreams of Serengeti mice are twitching at her feet.
My tabby’s meditating and her limbs are all tucked in,
Her head is nodding forward as she draws herself within,
And. who knows, if she meditates to the fire’s gentle hum,
Her focus will reward her and a lion she’ll become.