Cats on Tuesday: For I Will Consider My Cat

Cats on Tuesday: For I Will Consider My Cat

I happen to love this jubilant poem by Christopher Smart (1722-71), so I am once again going to inflict poetry upon you. This week, For I Will Consider My Cat Jeoffry (excerpt, Jubilate Agno).

For I will consider my Cat Jeoffry.
For he is the servant of the Living God, duly and daily serving him.
For at the first glance of the glory of God in the East he worships in his way.
For is this done by wreathing his body seven times round with elegant quickness.
For then he leaps up to catch the musk, which is the blessing of God upon his prayer.
For he rolls upon prank to work it in.
For having done duty and received blessing he begins to consider himself.
For this he performs in ten degrees.

For first he looks upon his forepaws to see if they are clean.
For secondly he kicks up behind to clear away there.
For thirdly he works it upon stretch with the forepaws extended.
For fourthly he sharpens his paws by wood.
For fifthly he washes himself.
For sixthly he rolls upon wash.
For seventhly he fleas himself, that he may not be interrupted upon the beat.
For eighthly he rubs himself against a post.
For ninthly he looks up for his instructions.
For tenthly he goes in quest of food.

For having considered God and himself he will consider his neighbor.
For if he meets another cat he will kiss her in kindness.
For when he takes his prey he plays with it to give it a chance.
For one mouse in seven escapes by his dallying.
For when his day's work is done his business more properly begins.
For he keeps the Lord's watch in the night against the adversary.
For he counteracts the powers of darkness by his electrical skin and glaring eyes.
For he counteracts the Devil, who is death, by brisking about the life.
For in his morning orisons he loves the sun and the sun loves him.
For he is of the tribe of Tiger.
For the Cherub Cat is a term of the Angel Tiger.
For he has the subtlety and hissing of a serpent, which in goodness he suppresses.
For he will not do destruction if he is well-fed, neither will he spit without provocation.

For he purrs in thankfulness when God tells him he's a good Cat.
For he is an instrument for the children to learn benevolence upon.
For every house is incomplete without him, and a blessing is lacking in the spirit.
For the Lord commanded Moses concerning the cats at the departure of the Children of Israel from Egypt.
For every family had one cat at least in the bag.
For the English Cats are the best in Europe.
For he is the cleanest in the use of his forepaws of any quadruped.
For the dexterity of his defense is an instance of the love of God to him exceedingly.
For he is the quickest to his mark of any creature.
For he is tenacious of his point.
For he is a mixture of gravity and waggery.
For he knows that God is his Saviour.

For there is nothing sweeter than his peace when at rest.
For there is nothing brisker than his life when in motion.
For he is of the Lord's poor, and so indeed is he called by benevolence perpetually—Poor Jeoffry! poor Jeoffry! the rat has bit thy throat.
For I bless the name of the Lord Jesus that Jeoffry is better.
For the divine spirit comes about his body to sustain it in complete cat.
For his tongue is exceeding pure so that it has in purity what it wants in music.
For he is docile and can learn certain things.
For he can sit up with gravity, which is patience upon approbation.
For he can fetch and carry, which is patience in employment.
For he can jump over a stick, which is patience upon proof positive.
For he can spraggle upon waggle at the word of command.
For he can jump from an eminence into his master's bosom.
For he can catch the cork and toss it again.
For he is hated by the hypocrite and miser.
For the former is afraid of detection.
For the latter refuses the charge.
For he camels his back to bear the first notion of business.
For he is good to think on, if a man would express himself neatly.
For he made a great figure in Egypt for his signal services.
For he killed the Icneumon rat, very pernicious by land.
For his ears are so acute that they sting again.
For from this proceeds the passing quickness of his attention.
For by stroking of him I have found out electricity.
For I perceived God's light about him both wax and fire.
For the electrical fire is the spiritual substance which God sends from heaven to sustain the bodies both of man and beast.
For God has blessed him in the variety of his movements.
For, though he cannot fly, he is an excellent clamberer.
For his motions upon the face of the earth are more than any other quadruped.
For he can tread to all the measures upon the music.
For he can swim for life.
For he can creep.

-- Christopher Smart (1722-71)

"With the exception of one brief intermission, Christopher Smart remained hospitalized for mental insanity from 1756 through 1763, during which he wrote the poems considered his best work: A Song to David (1763) and Jubilate Agno, first published in 1939 by W. F. Stead. Though critics of his own time accused A Song to David of incoherence, it experienced a surge of praise and interest in the nineteenth century by such poets as Browning and Yeats. Only fragments of Jubilate Agno remain today; best known of these fragments is the cataloging homage to his cat Jeoffry, companion during Smart's incarceration."


Chris said...

Do I see a tufty Isis tummy in the last picture?! *gingerly scritches*

katztales said...

Poor man! Can't have been any fun being in Bedlam in those days. But at least he had a cat with him. I bet they wouldn't let cats in with you today.

Gattina said...

In short : a real cat !
It seems that spring makes you creative :-)

You came too early I had COT posted at 4 am my time !

Ydiana said...

Wow... what a deep poem. But to an extent, they're funny truths about cats! :)

Luna said...

Wow, those are some true faqs about cats...that´s why we love cats.
Cute pictures with the poem!
Happy Tuesday!

Irishcoda said...

I love the poem!

Tricia said...

Wonderful poem! I'm glad Christopher had a cat, how much lonelier would his time have been without one.

Tabbikat's Thoughts

Julie said...

That is a wonderful poem, and I like the pics of your kitties. :)

catsynth said...

What a great tribute in poetry to cats. And of course the pictures enhance the reading. It sounds like a sad story - glad he had a cat as a companion during his incarceration.

KJ said...

OK Isis is so adorable. She looks like she is dreaming of being surrounding in a field by leaping tuna fish and is deliriously happy catching them in a pile to share them with her girlfriend/mama.

ya know "cat dreams"


srp said...

I had read some of this poem before... if one were incarcerated, I think writing poetry extolling the wonderful cat would be a way to remain sane... don't you? ;)