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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

Of Dr. Byles’s Cat

By Joseph Green (1706–1780)

[The Poet’s Lamentations for the Loss of his Cat, which he used to call his Muse.]

OPPRESSED with grief in heavy strains I mourn

The partner of my studies from me torn.

How shall I sing? what numbers shall I choose?

For in my favorite cat I’ve lost my muse.

No more I feel my mind with raptures fired,

I want those airs that Puss so oft inspired:

No crowding thoughts my ready fancy fill,

Nor words run fluent from my easy quill;

Yet shall my verse deplore her cruel fate,

And celebrate the virtues of my cat.

In acts obscene she never took delight;

No caterwauls disturbed our sleep by night;

Chaste as a virgin, free from every stain,

And neighboring cats mewed for her love in vain.

She never thirsted for the chicken’s blood;

Her teeth she only used to chew her food;

Harmless as satires which her master writes,

A foe to scratching, and unused to bites,

She in the study was my constant mate;

There we together many evenings sate.

Whene’er I felt my towering fancy fail,

I stroked her head, her ears, her back, and tail;

And as I stroked improved my dying song

From the sweet notes of her melodious tongue:

Her purrs and mews so evenly kept time,

She purred in metre, and she mewed in rhyme.

But when my dulness has too stubborn proved,

Nor could by Puss’s music be removed,

Oft to the well-known volumes have I gone,

And stole a line from Pope or Addison.

Ofttimes when lost amidst poetic heat,

She leaping on my knee has took her seat;

There saw the throes that rocked my laboring brain,

And licked and clawed me to myself again.

Then, friends, indulge my grief, and let me mourn,

My cat is gone, ah! never to return.

Now in my study, all the tedious night,

Alone I sit, and unassisted write;

Look often round (O greatest cause of pain),

And view the numerous labors of my brain;

Those quires of words arrayed in pompous rhyme,

Which braved the jaws of all-devouring time,

Now undefended and unwatched by cats,

Are doomed a victim to the teeth of rats.