Guest poem submitted by Suchitra:
(Poem #663) A Child's Nightmare
Through long nursery nights he stood By my bed unwearying, Loomed gigantic, formless, queer, Purring in my haunted ear That same hideous nightmare thing, Talking, as he lapped my blood, In a voice cruel and flat, Saying for ever, "Cat! ... Cat! ... Cat!..." That one word was all he said, That one word through all my sleep, In monotonous mock despair. Nonsense may be light as air, But there's Nonsense that can keep Horror bristling round the head, When a voice cruel and flat Says for ever, "Cat! ... Cat! ... Cat!..." He had faded, he was gone Years ago with Nursery Land, When he leapt on me again From the clank of a night train, Overpowered me foot and head, Lapped my blood, while on and on The old voice cruel and flat Says for ever, "Cat! ... Cat! ... Cat!..." Morphia drowsed, again I lay In a crater by High Wood: He was there with straddling legs, Staring eyes as big as eggs, Purring as he lapped my blood, His black bulk darkening the day, With a voice cruel and flat, "Cat! ... Cat! ... Cat! ... Cat!..." he said, "Cat! ... Cat!..." When I'm shot through heart and head, And there's no choice but to die, The last word I'll hear, no doubt, Won't be "Charge!" or "Bomb them out!" Nor the stretcher-bearer's cry, "Let that body be, he's dead!" But a voice cruel and flat Saying for ever, "Cat! ... Cat! ... Cat!"
From "Fairies and Fusiliers", published 1918. Let me begin with a confession - I don't like cats. I don't even like feline poetry that much, except for a few poems like this one. This poem has a distinctive eerie feel; it reminds me, somehow, of "Frankenstein" since the cat (or the unnamed thing that says "Cat!...Cat!") is destined to haunt the poet forever. The repitition of the word "Cat" seems to turn the word into a symbol of terror. I also think the "..." between the words "Cat!" gives it a good rhythm (not "monotonous" as to the poet!) and adds to the haunting effect. These lines are particularly insightful: "Nonsense may be light as air / But there's Nonsense that can keep / Horror bristling round the head". Aptly describes the kind of fear one associates with "ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggedy beasties" . On a personal note, this is also a poem I can empathise with, because I have had some vivid nightmares about tigers. Still do, actually (there, I admitted it!). One of them was about a huge tiger that lay on the roof of my house, its paws hanging over the windows - quite like "He was there with straddling legs / Staring eyes as big as eggs / ... / His black bulk darkening the day". Of course in my dream, there were also life-size tigers prowling around the house... Suchitra.  A traditional Scottish prayer goes: From ghoulies and ghosties And long-leggedy beasties And things that go bump in the night, Good Lord, deliver us! [Minstrels Links] Other poems by Robert Graves: poem #55 poem #564 poem #467 poem #298 poem #515 [thomas adds] Other poems about cats: All over the place. Sometimes it feels like we've never done anything else <grin>. Go to poem #661 , and follow the links. Once we have the "sort by theme" feature ready (coming your way Real Soon Now) it should be a lot easier to do this sort of thing. Random associations: "Ghost V", by Robert Sheckley. "Lords and Ladies", by Terry Pratchett. (Both highly recommended, if you haven't read them before).