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How a Cat Was Annoyed and a Poet Was Booted -- Guy Wetmore Carryl

(Words bracketed like _this_ were italicised in the text)
(Poem #273) How a Cat Was Annoyed and a Poet Was Booted
  A poet had a cat.
  There is nothing odd in that-
  (I _might_ make a little pun about the _Mews_!)
  But what is really more
  Remarkable, she wore
  A pair of pointed patent-leather shoes.
  And I doubt me greatly whether
  E'er you heard the like of that:
  Pointed shoes of patent-leather
  On a cat!

  His time he used to pass
  Writing sonnets, on the grass-
  (I _might_ say something good on _pen_ and _sward_!)
  While the cat sat near at hand,
  Trying hard to understand
  The poems he occasionally roared.
  (I myself possess a feline,
  But when poetry I roar
  He is sure to make a bee-line
  For the door.)

  The poet, cent by cent,
  All his patrimony spent-
  (I _might_ tell how he went from _verse_ to _werse_!)
  Till the cat was sure she could,
  By advising, do him good.
  So addressed him in a manner that was terse:
  "We are bound toward the scuppers,
  And the time has come to act,
  Or we'll both be on our uppers
  For a fact!"

  On her boot she fixed her eye,
  But the boot made no reply-
  (I _might_ say: "Couldn't speak to save its _sole_!")
  And the foolish bard, instead
  Of responding, only read
  A verse that wasn't bad upon the whole.
  And it pleased the cat so greatly,
  Though she knew not what it meant,
  That I'll quote approximately
  How it went:-

  "If I should live to be
  The last leaf upon the tree"-
  (I _might_ put in: "I think I'd just as _leaf_!")
  "Let them smile, as I do now,
  At the old forsaken bough"-
  Well, he'd plagiarized it bodily, in brief!
  But that cat of simple breeding
  Couldn't read the lines between,
  So she took it to a leading
  Magazine.

  She was jarred and very sore
  When they showed her to the door.
  (I _might_ hit off the door that was a _jar_!)
  To the spot she swift returned
  Where the poet sighed and yearned,
  And she told him that he'd gone a little far.
  "Your performance with this rhyme has
  Made me absolutely sick,"
  She remarked. "I think the time has
  Come to kick!"

  I could fill up half the page
  With descriptions of her rage-
  (I might say that she went a bit too fur!)
  When he smiled and murmured: "Shoo!"
  "There is one thing I can do!"
  She answered with a wrathful kind of purr.
  "You may shoo me, and it suit you,
  But I feel my conscience bid
  Me, as tit for tat, to boot you!"
  (Which she did.)

  _The Moral_ of the plot
  (Though I say it, as should not!)
  Is: An editor is difficult to suit.
  But again there're other times
  When the man who fashions rhymes
  Is a rascal, and a bully one to boot!
-- Guy Wetmore Carryl
A slightly different poem by Carryl - unlike the previous two we've run,
this one is not a fable or fairytale retelling (though there seems to be a
nod towards 'Puss in Boots'). The humour appears to be mainly in the
parenthetical comments, a fairly common form of humour in which the author
uses a deliberately heavyhanded approach - the joke works on two levels,
both as a pun, and as a sly poke at people who *think* they're funny[1].

And as a final note, the poem referred to is 'The Last Leaf' by Oliver
Wendell Holmes ([broken link] http://eldred.ne.mediaone.net/owh/ll.html)

[1] I have no idea whether he's parodying anything specific here, but I
associate the form with Grossmith's 'Diary of a Nobody' - all the funnier
there because the protagonist actually did think he was funny, and insisted
on emphasising all his puns so that the listener wouldn't miss the point.

Links:

I am still unable to find a biography of Carryl, and would be eternally
grateful to anyone who could supply one

The previous two Carryl poems are available at
[broken link] http://www.cs.rice.edu/~ssiyer/minstrels/index_poet.html

m.

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