Guest poem submitted by William Grey:
(Poem #1555) On a Favourite Cat, Drowned in a Tub of Gold Fishes
'Twas on a lofty vase's side, Where China's gayest art had dyed The azure flowers that blow; Demurest of the tabby kind, The pensive Selima reclined, Gazed on the lake below. Her conscious tail her joy declared; The fair round face, the snowy beard, The velvet of her paws, Her coat, that with the tortoise vies, Her ears of jet, and emerald eyes, She saw; and purr'd applause. Still had she gazed; but 'midst the tide Two angel forms were seen to glide, The Genii of the stream: Their scaly armour's Tyrian hue Thro' richest purple to the view Betray'd a golden gleam. The hapless Nymph with wonder saw: A whisker first and then a claw, With many an ardent wish, She stretch'd in vain to reach the prize. What female heart can gold despise? What Cat's averse to fish? Presumptuous Maid! with looks intent Again she stretch'd, again she bent, Nor knew the gulf between. (Malignant Fate sat by, and smiled.) The slipp'ry verge her feet beguiled, She tumbled headlong in. Eight times emerging from the flood She mew'd to ev'ry wat'ry god, Some speedy aid to send. No Dolphin came, no Nereid stirr'd: Nor cruel Tom, nor Susan heard. A Fav'rite has no friend! From hence, ye Beauties, undeceived, Know, one false step is ne'er retrieved, And be with caution bold. Not all that tempts your wand'ring eyes And heedless hearts, is lawful prize; Nor all that glisters, gold.
(1716-1771) As a recent subscriber to Wondering Minstrels I ask indulgence for nominating a poem which is justly famous. This poem is a personal favourite of mine. I marvel at Gray's poetic genius transforming a sad domestic misadventure into an immortal moral tale. The mock heroic form is pure delight. The poem is richly steeped in literary allusion, and much detail can be found at: http://www.thomasgray.org/index.shtml A couple of notes: "Genii" are guardian spirits. Cats have nine lives; hence Selima emerged eight times before succumbing to her wat'ry fate. The dolphin alludes to the story of the dolphin which saved Arion from drowning. The allusion in Nereid is possibly to the story of Sabrina in Comus. "Tom" and "Susan" are generic names of domestic servants.