A Kit Cat Ode

Mr Elliott

Thursday Afternoon

Dear Madam,

On my return last night from your Attic Chest, I was surprised to see the enclosed fall from my pocket. Concluding it to be one of the poems which were not read for want of time, and that it had got by accident into the folds of my handkerchief which I remember to have laid on the Table, I beg to return it to you and to subscribe myself

Your friend and admirer

 * * * *

P.S. I am induced to omit my signature, tho’ fear of being misunderstood and accused of taking the paper away on purpose.

To the Attic Society

A Kit-cat Ode

Why should not I invoke the nine
Since ’tis the lot of race feline
 To be ninefold in lives?
And now I’ve peep’d within that chest
I feel and ardour in my breast
 For utterance that strives — 

No more I’ll plaintive cry mew, mew;
To purring eke I’ll bid adieu,
 And seize my mistress’ pen;
With what I hear and what I see
Both thought and diction shall agree
 I’ll write in speech of men!

Hail thou, thou wondrous chest, all hail!
Tho’ sorely thou did’st nip my tail,
 When late within thy lid
In sportive mood by Ellen pent,
Who deem’d me but on frisking bent
 Thy treasures rare amid — 

But could she know the pageantry
That beam’d upon my gifted eye,
 With awe and rapture smitten,
The wonders of her chest to see
Such as they then appear’d to me
 She’d wish herself a kitten.

I know the genius of the chest
By silvery lyre and shining vest
 Which playful fancy wove,
Where pictur’d forms of every hue,
Or grave or gay, to nature true,
 In mingling contrast strove.

Behind their prince an elfin brood
Of motley hue and figure stood,
 Companions of his state;
Who weave the dance; or wake the shell
Or in full choir symphonious mewl,
 Or his behest await.

A tuneful sisterhood was there,
Who made the sounding lyre their care,
 Or tun’d the Doric reed;

There elves whose quips and cranks and wiles
Ne’er fail to call forth wreathed smiles,
 Whene’er to sport they’re freed — 

There too were imps of solemn port
Who cheek’d their game and mix’d their sport
 With science’ gravest lore;
Some geologic lectures brought,
Of physiology some taught;
 Some op’d the chemist’s store — 

Then rose to my astonish’d view
A hum’rous, strange and motley crew
 Who various banners bore
Beem’d brightly “Tabby Hall” on one,
On some “Electomagus” shone,
 And I had reckon’d more,

But that the genius struck his lyre
Of pow’r sweet poesy t’inspire,
 E’en in a kitten’s soul:
Nought else I heard — nought else I saw — 
But every sense was rapt in awe
 While thus his numbers roll — 

“For now does sickness lose his pow’r
To drive aloof the festal hour,
 And round my chest once more
The friendly band, from pain released
Assemble with delight to feast
 Upon my various store — “

More had he sung, but Ellen then
Began the lid to life again
 The airy vision fled!
I ran to dip my paw in ink
To tell you all I saw and think,
 And all the genius said.