The Poet’s Lamentation for the Loss of His Cat, Which He Us’d to Call His Muse by Joseph Green

Felis quædam Delicium erat cujusdam Adolescentis. – Æsop.

Oppress’d with grief, in heavy strains I mourn
The partner of my studies from me torn:
How shall I sing? what numbers shall I chuse?
For in my fav’rite cat I’ve lost my muse.
No more I feel my mind with raptures fir’d,
I want those airs that Puss so oft inspir’d;
No crowding thoughts my ready fancy fill,
Nor words run fluent from my easy quill:
Yet shall my verse deplore her cruel fate,
And celebrate the virutes of my cat.

In acts obscene she never took delight;
No catterwawls disturb’d our sleep by night;
Chaste as a virgin, free from every strain,
And neighb’ring cats mew’d for her love in vain.

She never thirsted for the chickens blood;
Her teeth she only us’d to chew her food:
Harmless as satires which her master writes,
A foe to scratching, and unus’d to bites.

She in the study was my constant mate;
There we together many evenings sat.
Whene’er I felt my tow’ring fancy fail,
I strok’d her head, her ears, her back, and tail;
And, as I strok’d, improv’d my dying song
From the sweet notes of her melodious tongue;
Her purrs and mews so evenly kept time,
She purr’d in metre and she mew’d in rhime.
But when my dullness has too stuborn prov’d,
Nor could by Puss‘s musick be remov’d,
Oft to the well-known volumes have I gone,
And stole a line from Pope or Addison.

Oftimes, when lost amidst poetic heat,
She leaping on my knee has took her seat;
There saw the throes that rack’d my lab’ring brain,
And lick’d and claw’d me to myself again.

Then, friends, indulge my grief, and let me mourn;
My cat is gone, ah! never to return.
Now in my study all the tedious night,
Alone I sit, and unassisted write:
Look often round (O greatest cause of pain)
And view the num’rous labours of my brain;
Those quires of words array’d in pompous rhime,
Which brav’d the jaws of all-devouring time,
Now undefended, and unwatch’d by cats,
Are doom’d a victim to the teeth of rats.

From: Jehlen, Myra and Warner, Michael (eds.), The English Literatures of Americas: 1500-1800, 2013, Routledge: New York, p. 1049.
(https://books.google.com.au/books?id=OsRmAgAAQBAJ)

Date: 1733

By: Joseph Green (1706-1780)

Alternative Title: Of Dr. Byles’s Cat

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