Ode to Geoffrey (the cat)


Christopher Smart, by unknown artist. See sour...
Chris Smart - Wrote an Ode to...me.

Today is the birthday of the guy who wrote what is thought to be the best poem ever written about a cat.  T.S. Eliot said of Christopher Smart‘s poem this it is”to all other poems about cats what the Iliad is to poems on war.”

What really interests me about this poem is the NAME of the cat for which the greatest poem in cat-poem history was ever written.  Mine.  Spelled (sort of) like mine.  As I read the masterpiece, to my wonder and surprise, I couldn’t believe how many of the lines of the poem applied exactly to me.  Or…close, anyway.

Here’s a few lines, *AHEM!*

For the English Cats are the best in Europe. (my name is the English spelling)
For he is the cleanest in the use of his forepaws of any quadruped. (I DO wash my hands sometimes)
For the dexterity of his defense is an instance of the love of God to him exceedingly. (every time I do something coordinated, I tell those around me that they have just witnessed how much, clearly, God loves me)
For he is the quickest to his mark of any creature. (don’t MESS with me, man.  I’m too fast for you.  You want some of this?  Huh?  Do ya?)
For he is tenacious of his point. (Yep.  I am.  Just don’t even argue)
For he is a mixture of gravity and waggery. (I don’t know what ‘waggery’ is…but it sounds awesome.  So I’m that.  For sure.)
For he knows that God is his Saviour. (A cat knows this?  MY cat sure doesn’t.)
For there is nothing sweeter than his peace when at rest. (I slept through the Northridge earthquake)
For there is nothing brisker than his life when in motion. (TOO brisk, many would say)
For he is of the Lord’s poor, and so indeed is he called by benevolence perpetually — Poor (look at my debt-income ratio…it ain’t pretty)
For his tongue is exceeding pure so that it has in purity what it wants in music. (I only stick my tongue out at people who might be able to appreciate such purity)
For he is docile and can learn certain things. (I think this line was lifted straight from my 3rd grade report card…sans the “docile” part)
For he can sit up with gravity, which is patience upon approbation. (I don’t know what all those words mean, but sure I’m that too.  I can sit up if I plan it out first)
For he can fetch and carry, which is patience in employment. (wife might agree with the ‘fetch’ and ‘carry’ part).
For he can jump over a stick, which is patience upon proof positive. (a LOW stick)
For he can spraggle upon waggle at the word of command.  (dude, don’t even mess with my spraggle)
For he can jump from an eminence into his master’s bosom.  (if by ‘master’ he means wife…then we’re talkin)

2 thoughts on “Ode to Geoffrey (the cat)

  1. mom

    I MUST say that I love your writing…intelligent, witty,fun….just like you. I realize there are those that would say I’m a biased “critic”. I wish that 3rd. grade teacher could see you now! Actually, maybe we could find her….if you didn’t leave her tied up, that is.


  2. Christina A.

    WOW, I never knew you so closely resembled Geoffrey the Cat!! You are much more funny than he is though…that’s not in there. I wish I knew how to command you to “spraggle upon waggle”…I’m sure it would be a sight to behold!!


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