Guest poem submitted by Suresh Ramasubramanian:
(Poem #1008) Cat
The fat cat on the mat may seem to dream of nice mice that suffice for him, or cream; but he free, maybe, walks in thought unbowed, proud, where loud roared and fought his kin, lean and slim, or deep in den in the East feasted on beasts and tender men. The giant lion with iron claw in paw, and huge ruthless tooth in gory jaw; the pard dark-starred, fleet upon feet, that oft soft from aloft leaps upon his meat where woods loom in gloom -- far now they be, fierce and free, and tamed is he; but fat cat on the mat kept as a pet he does not forget.
A beautiful poem that's a bit more than it seems. The Red Book has several verses, some of which figure in the Lord of the Rings, or in the attached stories / preludes / interludes and such. Others are just scrawled in the margins, for possible inclusion. JRR had scribbled "SG" in the margin when he wrote the poem, suggesting that he meant to attribute it to Sam Gamgee. The poem is also fairly traditional hobbit poetry (which deals a lot with birds and beasts): rhythmic, with frequent alliteration and assonance, making for an excellent nursery-rhyme sort of singalong song. Still, it makes you think. Contrast a cute cat sleeping in front of a fire with a wild, roaring and dangerous lion - and then have Tolkien solemnly inform you in the last line that the cat hasn't forgotten her wild ancestry... Suresh. [thomas adds] Just a word on prosody: "Cat" may seem on first reading to be merely a 'hobbit nursery-rhyme', but the technical mastery it displays is nothing short of staggering. The even-numbered lines rhyme with each other and also internally; the odd-numbered ones have internal _triple_ rhymes. And all this is done in lines of two and three feet respectively, leaving barely any room for error; every single word (other than the placeholders - prepositions conjunctions and auxiliaries) seems to be part of the rhyme scheme. Incredible. [Minstrels Links] John Ronald Reuel Tolkien: Poem #4, The Road Goes Ever On Poem #46, Lament for Boromir Poem #93, Eärendil was a mariner Poem #142, He chanted a song of wizardry Poem #220, Lament for Eorl the Young Poem #257, Three Rings for the Elven Kings Poem #318, Tall ships and tall kings Poem #370, Troll sat alone on his seat of stone Poem #440, Bregalad's Lament Poem #643, The Man in the Moon Came Down Too Soon Poem #736, The world was young, the mountains green Cats, practical and otherwise: Poem #165, The Owl and the Pussy-Cat -- Edward Lear Poem #167, Pangur Ban -- Anon. (Irish, 8th century) Poem #258, Macavity: The Mystery Cat -- T. S. Eliot Poem #273, How a Cat Was Annoyed and a Poet Was Booted -- Guy Wetmore Carryl Poem #282, Fog -- Carl Sandburg Poem #401, To a Cat -- Jorge Luis Borges Poem #572, Mort aux Chats -- Peter Porter Poem #574, Growltiger's Last Stand -- T. S. Eliot Poem #575, To Mrs Reynolds' Cat -- John Keats Poem #577, The Cat and the Moon -- William Butler Yeats Poem #659, Poem -- William Carlos Williams Poem #660, On a Night of Snow -- Elizabeth Coatsworth Poem #661, Jubilate Agno -- Christopher Smart Poem #662, Cat -- Jibanananda Das Poem #663, A Child's Nightmare -- Robert Graves Poem #674, Aunt Jennifer's Tigers -- Adrienne Rich Poem #727, Milk for the Cat -- Harold Monro Poem #955, Gus: The Theatre Cat -- T. S. Eliot