Subscribe: by Email | in Reader

A Child's Nightmare -- Robert Graves

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!"
-- Robert Graves
 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" [1].

 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...


[1] 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).

31 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Bruce Alan Wilson said...

This poem, being on Cats, was in the same list as J.R.R. Tolkein's "The Cat." I
have often thought that RG and JRRT had very similar experiences as young
men--both were junior officers in the ugliest part of WWI; both saw horrors;
both were wounded and severely traumatized. However, their resolution of the
trauma was so different. Graves lost his faith; Tolkein had his confirmed.

viagra online said...

She loves me-loves me not.
My hands I pick
and having broken my fingers
fling away.
So the first daisy-heads
one happens to flick
are plucked,
and guessing,
scattered into May.
Let a cut and shave
reveal my grey hairs.
Let the silver of the years
ring out endlessly !
Shameful common sense -
I hope, I swear -
Will never come
to me.

Space Matters Real Estates said...

Hello There. I found your blog using msn. This is a really well written article. I’ll be sure to bookmark it and return to read more of your useful information. Thanks for the post. I will definitely return. Plots for sale in Hyderabad
Plots for sale in Banjara Hills
Plots for sale in Jubilee Hills
Plots for sale in Manikonda
Plots for sale in Madhapur
Plots for sale in kondapur
Plots for sale in Gachibowli
Plots for sale in Kukatpally

Anonymous said...

Yes! Finally someone writes about nightmare.

Also visit my blog :: Registry cleaners

Obat Pembesar Penis said...

nice article guy....good work for you and your aticle very usefull for me

Produk Herbal said...

Heya i am for the primary time here. I found this board and I to find It really useful & it helped me out a lot. I'm hoping to present something back and help others like you aided me. Atasi Ejakulasi Dini , Atasi Lemah Syahwat , Atasi Keputihan , Penambah Gairah Wanita , Atasi Perut Buncit , Atasi Penyakit Kronis

Obat Kuat Alami said...

Hello there, just was alert to your weblog via Google, and found that it is truly informative. I'm gonna watch out for brussels. I'll be grateful should you proceed this in future. Lots of people will likely be benefited out of your writing. Cheers!

sectional sofa said...

You know thus considerably relating to this subject, produced me in my opinion consider it from so many varied angles. Its like women and men don't seem to be involved until it is something to accomplish with Lady gaga! Your personal stuffs outstanding. Always maintain it up!
Chair & Arm Chair
Sun Lounger
Round Tables
Rec. Tables
Side Tables
Coffee Tables
Sectional Sofa

Unknown said...

Thank you, I’ve just been searching for information about this topic for a while and yours is the greatest I’ve discovered till now. Home cleaning | Hotel | But, what in regards to the conclusion? Are you sure concerning the supply?

MH Tofan said...

Nice Post, Thanks for your very useful information... I will bookmark for next reference

Distributor Obat Herbal said...

Liver cancer is a type of cancer is the fifth most common in the world and considered one of the deadliest cancers. Liver cancer will kill nearly all the miserable patients within a year. Causes of liver cancer until now not yet known for sure. Obat Kanker Hati But primary liver cancer (Carcinoma hepatoseluler) tend to occur on the liver/liver damaged due to birth defects, alcohol abuse, Obat Pelangsing or chronic infection resulting from diseases such as hepatitis B and C, hemochromatosis (too large number of iron levels in the liver) and cirrhosis. More than 50% of people are terdiagnosa primary liver cancer, cirrhosis of the liver have been experiencing. Those who suffer from a genetic condition called hemochromatosis has greater risk.Obat Miom

Anonymous said...

Seberat apapun beban masalah yang kamu hadapi saat ini, percayalah bahwa semua itu tidak pernah melebihi batas kemampuan kamu.

Post a Comment