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These loveable cat poems were written by T.S. Eliot for his godchildren and friends in the thirties. They have delighted generations of children since, and inspired Andrew Lloyd Webber's brilliant musical Cats. These loveable cat poems were written by T.S. Eliot for his godchildren and friends in the thirties. They have delighted generations of children since, and inspired Andrew Lloyd Webber's brilliant musical Cats.


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These loveable cat poems were written by T.S. Eliot for his godchildren and friends in the thirties. They have delighted generations of children since, and inspired Andrew Lloyd Webber's brilliant musical Cats. These loveable cat poems were written by T.S. Eliot for his godchildren and friends in the thirties. They have delighted generations of children since, and inspired Andrew Lloyd Webber's brilliant musical Cats.

30 review for Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats

  1. 5 out of 5

    Fergus

    A CAT’S A CAT! Before a Cat will condescend To treat you as a trusted friend, Some little token of esteem Is needed, like a dish of cream; And you might now and then supply Some caviare, or Strassburg Pie, Some potted grouse, or salmon paste - He’s sure to have his personal taste. A Cat’s entitled to expect These evidences of respect.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Laurel Hicks

    Someone should set this to music.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lala BooksandLala

    Book 5 of 30 for my 30 day reading challenge! I don't know how to review this book. lol it was so odd. Book 5 of 30 for my 30 day reading challenge! I don't know how to review this book. lol it was so odd.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Justin Tate

    T.S. Eliot is known for masterworks of poetry like The Waste Land, but somehow also the author of this delightful collection of cat poems. The full book consists of 15 very short poems, most of which describe a distinct personality of cat. There's the cat who can never be pleased, for example, the thieving cat, the old wise cat. Each cat has a creative name which mirrors their personality. Eliot's poems are the source material for Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical Cats which is what inspired me to pi T.S. Eliot is known for masterworks of poetry like The Waste Land, but somehow also the author of this delightful collection of cat poems. The full book consists of 15 very short poems, most of which describe a distinct personality of cat. There's the cat who can never be pleased, for example, the thieving cat, the old wise cat. Each cat has a creative name which mirrors their personality. Eliot's poems are the source material for Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical Cats which is what inspired me to pick this up. I've never seen Cats but from my understanding Eliot's poetry is heavily utilized in the musical, both as character and lyrics. I'm not surprised. The poetry has a distinctly sing-song quality to it, with some refrains repeating like choruses. Each "character" jumps off the page and presents themselves divinely for the theater. It's been a long time since I've read T.S. Eliot, and the previous experience was much more grueling than reading this. Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats is not meant to challenge the reader. It's meant to be whimsical, for children and adults alike. Even if you rarely enjoy poetry, this will surely warm your heart. A great way to spend 30 minutes, and good preparation for the new Cats movie.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jess the Shelf-Declared Bibliophile

    A quite funny and brilliant book of poems about cats. I had no idea that this was the inspiration behind the Cats musical until I read the back cover!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Manny

    To My New Feline Friend I know an Abyssinian her name in French is Silicate The rest of this review is available elsewhere (the location cannot be given for Goodreads policy reasons)

  7. 4 out of 5

    Helene Jeppesen

    If you're a cat-lover (as I am), then this is a must-read for you! This is a charming book written in verse, and each chapter is dedicated to a different kind of cat with its own kind of personality. This just goes to show how many personalities a cat can really have and I loved it :) If you're a cat-lover (as I am), then this is a must-read for you! This is a charming book written in verse, and each chapter is dedicated to a different kind of cat with its own kind of personality. This just goes to show how many personalities a cat can really have and I loved it :)

  8. 4 out of 5

    Steven Godin

    Favourites - The Old Gumbie Cat The Rum Tum Tugger Mr. Mistoffelees Gus: the Theater Cat. THE RUM TUM TUGGER The Rum Tum Tugger is a Curious Cat: If you offer him pheasant he would rather have grouse, If you put him in a house he would much prefer a flat, If you put him in a flat then he'd rather have a house. If you set him on a mouse then he only wants a rat, If you set him on a rat then he'd rather chase a mouse. Yes the Rum Tum Tugger is a Curious Cat— And there isn't any call for me to shout it: For h Favourites - The Old Gumbie Cat The Rum Tum Tugger Mr. Mistoffelees Gus: the Theater Cat. THE RUM TUM TUGGER The Rum Tum Tugger is a Curious Cat: If you offer him pheasant he would rather have grouse, If you put him in a house he would much prefer a flat, If you put him in a flat then he'd rather have a house. If you set him on a mouse then he only wants a rat, If you set him on a rat then he'd rather chase a mouse. Yes the Rum Tum Tugger is a Curious Cat— And there isn't any call for me to shout it: For he will do As he do do And there's no doing anything about it! The Rum Tum Tugger is a terrible bore: When you let him in, then he wants to be out; He's always on the wrong side of every door, And as soon as he's at home, then he'd like to get about. He likes to lie in the bureau drawer, But he makes such a fuss if he can't get out. Yes the Rum Tum Tugger is a Curious Cat— And it isn't any use for you to doubt it: For he will do As he do do And there's no doing anything about it! The Rum Tum Tugger is a curious beast: His disobliging ways are a matter of habit. If you offer him fish then, he always wants a feast; When there isn't any fish then he won't eat rabbit. If you offer him cream then he sniffs and sneers, For he only likes what he finds for himself; So you'll catch him in it right up to the ears, If you put it away on the larder shelf. The Rum Tum Tugger is artful and knowing, The Rum Tum Tugger doesn't care for a cuddle; But he'll leap on your lap in the middle of your sewing, For there's nothing he enjoys like a horrible muddle. Yes the Rum Tum Tugger is a Curious Cat— And there isn't any need for me to spout it: For he will do As he do do And there's no doing anything about it!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Gerhard

    You now have learned enough to see That Cats are much like you and me Okay, after I finished reading this classic, I decided to gird the proverbial loins and watch the Tom Hooper movie for the first time. Well aware of how awful and derisive the reviews had been, I fortified myself with a good few glasses of shiraz and my TV blanket. I mean, Vanity Fair actually ran an article entitled: ‘The Cats Catastrophe: Is Tom Hooper Going to Director’s Jail?’ Much to my surprise … I kind of liked it. The ‘je You now have learned enough to see That Cats are much like you and me Okay, after I finished reading this classic, I decided to gird the proverbial loins and watch the Tom Hooper movie for the first time. Well aware of how awful and derisive the reviews had been, I fortified myself with a good few glasses of shiraz and my TV blanket. I mean, Vanity Fair actually ran an article entitled: ‘The Cats Catastrophe: Is Tom Hooper Going to Director’s Jail?’ Much to my surprise … I kind of liked it. The ‘jellicle cats’ riff is pretty in line with the plot (as it is) of the musical. There are a lot of in-jokes and references, such as a sly nod to The Wasteland, and for some reason I kept of thinking about A Clockwork Orange while watching it. There is a weirdness and a manic energy that is quite infectious. Admittedly the hyper-sexualisation of Eliot’s text is eyebrow-raising, and means this is certainly no Pixar movie. The casting is mainly spot-on, especially Judi Dench and Ian McKellen. I’m not sure the CGI is entirely convincing, as these cat-human hybrids seem much more of the latter than the former (the meowing is definitely unconvincing; Dame Judi Dench throwing a ham bone made me guffaw out loud). A lot of the scale seems off, and there is a demented aspect to the production design. All of this is definitely deliberate, and does make for one of the strangest movies I have seen in a long time, even though it is based on such a well-known book. Nothing though will ever be able to tarnish Eliot’s magical verse. And I have to say that Hooper does a pretty good job in outdoing the bonkers quotient of the musical, which certainly is no mean feat.

  10. 4 out of 5

    dianne (off seeking immunity)

    Reminiscent of A.A. Milne's poetry, with fun imagery helped along by Edward Gorey's illustrations. i tried to prolong each page, only letting myself read one cat a day. Poor Tim, my love, i torture you with all my silly rhymes... He's patient, though it has to stop, we've lived through harder times. odd rules of friending a cat "don't speak til spoken to" quite unpredictable at that this book i'm thumbing through dear Eliot, i love your rhymes in couplets or in sequence. there's much i learn each page i t Reminiscent of A.A. Milne's poetry, with fun imagery helped along by Edward Gorey's illustrations. i tried to prolong each page, only letting myself read one cat a day. Poor Tim, my love, i torture you with all my silly rhymes... He's patient, though it has to stop, we've lived through harder times. odd rules of friending a cat "don't speak til spoken to" quite unpredictable at that this book i'm thumbing through dear Eliot, i love your rhymes in couplets or in sequence. there's much i learn each page i turn, you've won my cat's allegiance. *** (so sorry)

  11. 5 out of 5

    Alice-Elizabeth

    So I learnt something new on the first day of 2020... thanks to my Mum, I know now that this collection of fun and light-hearted poems on cats inspired the famous musical Cats. My favourite poem was the one on Macavity which was fun to read aloud and create some good rhythm to it. The rhyming for the majority of the poetry worked really well for me.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Leslie

    2021 reread via Kindle editon (without illustrations): While I missed Gorey's illustrations, the poems are still delightful. I read them aloud to my cats *grin* ----------------- 2014 review: I had always thought of T.S. Eliot as a difficult and gloomy poet, so these poems were a revelation! Such light-hearted fun which really benefits from being read aloud & the Edward Gorey illustrations were marvelous too. 2021 reread via Kindle editon (without illustrations): While I missed Gorey's illustrations, the poems are still delightful. I read them aloud to my cats *grin* ----------------- 2014 review: I had always thought of T.S. Eliot as a difficult and gloomy poet, so these poems were a revelation! Such light-hearted fun which really benefits from being read aloud & the Edward Gorey illustrations were marvelous too.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Julie Ehlers

    Shows a strong understanding of the psychology of cats.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Patricia Williams

    I love, love, love this book. And of course I also love cats. I've read this book many times and was so amazed that someone took the poetry and made it into a Broadway play, which, of course, I also love. Amazing! I love, love, love this book. And of course I also love cats. I've read this book many times and was so amazed that someone took the poetry and made it into a Broadway play, which, of course, I also love. Amazing!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Quo

    Long before Andrew Lloyd Webber's fabled musical, I read Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats to my sons and to one of them just after he was born, though I suspect the readings have had no lasting impact on children so very young. These feline tales by Mr. Eliot stand as an interesting counterpoint to The Wasteland and Eliot's more serious musings and they have a kind of enduring charm for me, though they may seem rather dated & even unfunny to many others. I am reminded of Fernando Pessoa's com Long before Andrew Lloyd Webber's fabled musical, I read Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats to my sons and to one of them just after he was born, though I suspect the readings have had no lasting impact on children so very young. These feline tales by Mr. Eliot stand as an interesting counterpoint to The Wasteland and Eliot's more serious musings and they have a kind of enduring charm for me, though they may seem rather dated & even unfunny to many others. I am reminded of Fernando Pessoa's comment that within each of us, there are many voices, a community of spirits as it were. T.S. Eliot was indeed a polymath, an amazingly profound poet & visionary in many regards. And yet it was said that he was quite content working as bank clerk at one point in his life and also very happy with his 2nd wife, someone whose level of education & social background were very much removed from his own. Similarly, I am reminded of a friend who went to the University of Oxford but once confessed that he most treasured the time he spends building & repairing model trains. The humor in Mr. Eliot's guide to cats is rather droll, or perhaps "British" as some might term it but the poet was born & raised in Saint Louis & drew some of his images, including Prufrock, from that American river city. So much with any form of humor depends on the way it is spun and listening to others such as Irene Worth & Sir John Gielgud translate the tales of "McCavity the Mystery Cat" or "The Rum Tum Tugger" or "Gus the Theatre Cat" or "Skimbleshanks the Railway Cat" can be an absolute treat, seeming to capture just the right cadence & tone. There is even an old recording of Eliot reading a few of these masterful cat-tales. One of my favorites of Mr. Eliot's felines is Gus, the cat who so laments that theatrical cats today lack the finesse & training that was so common in his own prime, "back in the days when Victoria reigned", when the now elderly Gus performed as "Firefrorefiddle, the Fiend of the Fell". But I am also partial to Growltiger, also known as "The Terror of the Thames", a somewhat seedy cat with character, portrayed with a rather mangy coat, one ear somewhat missing & only one functioning eye but very much the nemesis of "designer cats". And as an example of Eliot's unstinting sort of humor (humour), he does not spare himself: How unpleasant to meet Mr. Eliot! With his features of clerical cut, And his brow so grim And his mouth so prim And his conversation, so nicely Restricted to What Precisely And If & Perhaps and But...So, at some point, do give Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats a glance or two and also look for the old Caedmon recitation with Irene Worth & Sir John Gielgud as well. And just to let you know, I am very much a dog fancier but not so keen on cats. And presently, my oldest son has taken to reading Mr. Eliot's cat verse to his young daughter!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    It always raises a smile when I finally get to read something that has had so much influence and been referenced so many times and yet I had NOT a clue about it. True I knew it was from T S Eliot and that it was written for his younger family member but beyond that it was limited to the hype around the stage show and that was about it. However once you start digging in to it you see so many more connections. Now ironically the copy I stumbled across was connected to the stage show however for me It always raises a smile when I finally get to read something that has had so much influence and been referenced so many times and yet I had NOT a clue about it. True I knew it was from T S Eliot and that it was written for his younger family member but beyond that it was limited to the hype around the stage show and that was about it. However once you start digging in to it you see so many more connections. Now ironically the copy I stumbled across was connected to the stage show however for me it were the cats which caught my attention. there are so many famous names here and not just made famous from the likes of Elaine Paige but the fact that many of the names have now seeped in to common culture. Now how many stories for younger family members can claim that sort of heritage. But I think there is more to this - here you find insight in to the world of T S Eliot- from the source of those rather special names for the cats (and dogs) to the fact that London town would not be the same with out those feline characters making it their own. The fun thing is that I have cats myself - and I am starting to wonder if there is little but of their in this book (or this book in them).

  17. 5 out of 5

    Petergiaquinta

    So, I'm really more of a dog guy, and I don't know if that's the reason or if it was the horribly ridiculous musical or what, but despite considering T.S. Eliot as one of my favorite poets during my college days and despite owning a copy of this book for at least fifteen years, I'd never read these poems until today. I'm curious what motivated Eliot to write these funny and clever little ditties for kitties--the writer feels more like Edward Lear than the elusive, erudite author of "The Hollow Me So, I'm really more of a dog guy, and I don't know if that's the reason or if it was the horribly ridiculous musical or what, but despite considering T.S. Eliot as one of my favorite poets during my college days and despite owning a copy of this book for at least fifteen years, I'd never read these poems until today. I'm curious what motivated Eliot to write these funny and clever little ditties for kitties--the writer feels more like Edward Lear than the elusive, erudite author of "The Hollow Men" and "Journey of the Magi"--but there's a perfect sort of precision to the meter and language, even if the subject is playful and quaint to the point of silliness. Or maybe that's just the loutish dog lover in me coming out; as Eliot writes, "The usual Dog about the Town / Is much inclined to play the clown, / And far from showing too much pride / Is frequently undignified." But even if that's me, I'm glad I finally got around to reading about Rum Tum Tugger, Old Deuteronomy, and Skimbleshanks the Railway Cat. And Edward Gorey's illustrations make Eliot's poems even more fun to read!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    I plucked this from a Faber 90th anniversary display in my local library. A number of the names and rhymes were culturally familiar for me even though I’d not read it before. Many of the poems have refrains, so it’s easy to see why they lent themselves to use in a musical (Cats). “The Naming of Cats,” the first poem and one of the best known, tells us that every cat has a secret name known only to itself, so when it seems lost in “profound meditation” (what my husband and I call being “on standb I plucked this from a Faber 90th anniversary display in my local library. A number of the names and rhymes were culturally familiar for me even though I’d not read it before. Many of the poems have refrains, so it’s easy to see why they lent themselves to use in a musical (Cats). “The Naming of Cats,” the first poem and one of the best known, tells us that every cat has a secret name known only to itself, so when it seems lost in “profound meditation” (what my husband and I call being “on standby”), it’s actually contemplating its own “ineffable” name. I especially loved “The Rum Tum Tugger,” about a contrary cat who always wants what he can’t have and never wants what he’s offered: “When you let him in, then he wants to be out; / He’s always on the wrong side of every door.” The penultimate poem, “The Ad-dressing of Cats,” comes full circle by again explaining how important names are to cats. “Again I must remind you that / A Dog’s a Dog—A CAT’S A CAT.” Good fun, but improbably triumphant in popular culture.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jonfaith

    Something in my imagination has been restless. I have craved world building, esoteric codes, political machinations, something to offset the Bob Corkers of my mind. Treading along in endless bureaucracy with handymen and adjusters, I long for the Epic. My wife and I have been rewatching every episode of Game of Thrones for the last two weeks or so. I am enjoying it much more when the narrative is compacted. I reflect on Delbruck and Braudel while listening to Tyrion. I read a story by Scott Lync Something in my imagination has been restless. I have craved world building, esoteric codes, political machinations, something to offset the Bob Corkers of my mind. Treading along in endless bureaucracy with handymen and adjusters, I long for the Epic. My wife and I have been rewatching every episode of Game of Thrones for the last two weeks or so. I am enjoying it much more when the narrative is compacted. I reflect on Delbruck and Braudel while listening to Tyrion. I read a story by Scott Lynch last week and I really liked it. I was hoping for more with his Gentleman Bastards series. That has been a flat experience so far. What does it lack? It lacks the sparkle of the Book of Practical Cats. These are wonderful spirits. They bubble and gesture with aplomb.

  20. 4 out of 5

    BAM Endlessly Booked

    Absolutely light-hearted and charming! I think I loved it so much because I could sing along to MaCavity and Rum Tum Tugger as often as I wished; I just didn't turn the page! These cats will give joy to so many for generations. All ages can smile at these rambunctious antics. Absolutely light-hearted and charming! I think I loved it so much because I could sing along to MaCavity and Rum Tum Tugger as often as I wished; I just didn't turn the page! These cats will give joy to so many for generations. All ages can smile at these rambunctious antics.

  21. 5 out of 5

    robin friedman

    Kitty Litter-ature Two intersecting paths brought me to read T.S. Eliot's whimsical 1939 book of poetry, "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats." First, I have been reading poetry the past few weeks and was browsing the library for a short, unusual work. Second, I adopted a pet cat -- a little calico -- some months ago after more that 15 years without one. I had almost forgotten how companionable a cat could be. The new kitty inspired my reading of a so-so book or two. Then, the poetry and the cat Kitty Litter-ature Two intersecting paths brought me to read T.S. Eliot's whimsical 1939 book of poetry, "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats." First, I have been reading poetry the past few weeks and was browsing the library for a short, unusual work. Second, I adopted a pet cat -- a little calico -- some months ago after more that 15 years without one. I had almost forgotten how companionable a cat could be. The new kitty inspired my reading of a so-so book or two. Then, the poetry and the cat led me to T.S. Eliot. In his book of practical cats, Old Possum, (1888 -- 1965), a great modernist poet, let his hair down. This little book, consists of 15 poems with the last one, "Cat Morgan Introduces Himself", added in 1952. The poems are short, rhythmical and rhymed. Eliot intended them for young children. They are delightful poetry in their own right with varied use of language and phrasing and poetic devices. The book became a famous musical and it is about a varied, eccentric menagerie of cats. The cats are recognizably feline and also manage to stand in for human types. The fourteen original poems tell an organized story with the first poem, "The Naming of Cats" setting the stage and the now penultimate poem, "The Ad-dressing of Cats" summarizing the story and bringing matters to a close. In between are 12 poems featuring a range of now famous cat characters. Every cat has "THREE DIFFERENT NAMES" we are told in the first poem: its given name, its particular name, and the name the cat keeps to itself. Which of the three names does Eliot use in the poems which follow? The poems tells the stories of cats with names such as Jennyanndots, the old Gumbie cat, the ill-fated Growltiger and his lady Griddlebone, and the obstinate Rum Tum Tugger. Eliot says of Rum Tum Tugger "For he will do As he do do And there's no doing anything about it"! Further named cats include Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer, full of destruction and mischief, Old Deuteronomy, the GREAT RUMPUSCAT, who defuses a dog fight, Mr. Mistoffelees, Macavity, the Mystery Cat,Asparagus, Bustopher Jones, the man about town, and Skimbleshanks, the railway cat. With the possible exception of (Aspara)gus, these names appear to be particular rather than given names of the creatures. Then, Eliot returns in the 14th poem to offer thoughts on the nature of cats, and their difference from dogs: "Before a cat will condescend To treat you as a trusted friend, Some little token of esteem Is needed, like a dish of cream: XXXXXXX XXXXXX A Cat's entitled to expect These evidences of respect. And so in time you reach your aim, And finally call him by his NAME." These poems are a treat to read. I was able without much effort to project them on to my cat. The poems also reminded me of my young far away granddaughters. I hope to take and read this little book to them on my next visit. Robin Friedman

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kwoomac

    This book was on my Recommendations book shelf, I hope because I'm a huge fan of Edward Gorey, not a crazy cat lady. Unfortunately for me, my library didn't have the edition that Gorey illustrated. So, I read this one. Actually, the illustrations were the only thing I enjoyed about the book. I felt like Eliot was trying too hard to be clever with the names and none of them worked for me. Cap'n Wussenfuss, now that would've been a good name but he didn't come up with that name, I did. They have n This book was on my Recommendations book shelf, I hope because I'm a huge fan of Edward Gorey, not a crazy cat lady. Unfortunately for me, my library didn't have the edition that Gorey illustrated. So, I read this one. Actually, the illustrations were the only thing I enjoyed about the book. I felt like Eliot was trying too hard to be clever with the names and none of them worked for me. Cap'n Wussenfuss, now that would've been a good name but he didn't come up with that name, I did. They have names like Jennyanydots (stupid) and Growltiger (duh) and Mungojerrie (doesn't really roll off the tongue). There were also some cringey moments in the poems, where he refers to siamese cats as either heathen Chinese or chinks. And finally, I learned after reading this book, that it was the inspiration for "Cats." 'nough said.

  23. 5 out of 5

    aPriL does feral sometimes

    "Before a Cat will condescend To treat you as a trusted friend, Some little token of esteem Is needed, like a dish of cream; And you might now and then supply Some caviare, or Strassburg Pie, Some potted grouse, or salmon paste-- He's sure to have his personal taste. (I know a Cat, who makes a habit Of eating nothing else but rabbit, And when he's finished, licks his paws So's not to waste the onion sauce.)" : ) Very cute and pleasant. "Before a Cat will condescend To treat you as a trusted friend, Some little token of esteem Is needed, like a dish of cream; And you might now and then supply Some caviare, or Strassburg Pie, Some potted grouse, or salmon paste-- He's sure to have his personal taste. (I know a Cat, who makes a habit Of eating nothing else but rabbit, And when he's finished, licks his paws So's not to waste the onion sauce.)" : ) Very cute and pleasant.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Adriana Scarpin

    Macavity - The Mystery Cat Macavity's a Mystery Cat: he's called the Hidden Paw-- For he's the master criminal who can defy the Law. He's the bafflement of Scotland Yard, the Flying Squad's despair: For when they reach the scene of crime--Macavity's not there! Macavity, Macavity, there's no on like Macavity, He's broken every human law, he breaks the law of gravity. His powers of levitation would make a fakir stare, And when you reach the scene of crime--Macavity's not there! You may seek him in the bas Macavity - The Mystery Cat Macavity's a Mystery Cat: he's called the Hidden Paw-- For he's the master criminal who can defy the Law. He's the bafflement of Scotland Yard, the Flying Squad's despair: For when they reach the scene of crime--Macavity's not there! Macavity, Macavity, there's no on like Macavity, He's broken every human law, he breaks the law of gravity. His powers of levitation would make a fakir stare, And when you reach the scene of crime--Macavity's not there! You may seek him in the basement, you may look up in the air-- But I tell you once and once again, Macavity's not there! Macavity's a ginger cat, he's very tall and thin; You would know him if you saw him, for his eyes are sunken in. His brow is deeply lined with thought, his head is highly doomed; His coat is dusty from neglect, his whiskers are uncombed. He sways his head from side to side, with movements like a snake; And when you think he's half asleep, he's always wide awake. Macavity, Macavity, there's no one like Macavity, For he's a fiend in feline shape, a monster of depravity. You may meet him in a by-street, you may see him in the square-- But when a crime's discovered, then Macavity's not there! He's outwardly respectable. (They say he cheats at cards.) And his footprints are not found in any file of Scotland Yard's. And when the larder's looted, or the jewel-case is rifled, Or when the milk is missing, or another Peke's been stifled, Or the greenhouse glass is broken, and the trellis past repair-- Ay, there's the wonder of the thing! Macavity's not there! And when the Foreign Office finds a Treaty's gone astray, Or the Admiralty lose some plans and drawings by the way, There may be a scap of paper in the hall or on the stair-- But it's useless of investigate--Macavity's not there! And when the loss has been disclosed, the Secret Service say: "It must have been Macavity!"--but he's a mile away. You'll be sure to find him resting, or a-licking of his thumbs, Or engaged in doing complicated long division sums. Macavity, Macavity, there's no one like Macacity, There never was a Cat of such deceitfulness and suavity. He always has an alibit, or one or two to spare: And whatever time the deed took place--MACAVITY WASN'T THERE! And they say that all the Cats whose wicked deeds are widely known (I might mention Mungojerrie, I might mention Griddlebone) Are nothing more than agents for the Cat who all the time Just controls their operations: the Napoleon of Crime!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Tweedledum

    Schrödinger's cat Schrödinger's cat's a mystery cat, he illustrates the laws; The complicated things he does have no apparent cause; He baffles the determinist, and drives him to despair For when they try to pin him down--the quantum cat's not there! Schrödinger's cat's a mystery cat, he's given to random decisions; His mass is slightly altered by a cloud of virtual kittens; The vacuum fluctuations print his traces in the air But if you try to find him, the quantum cat's not there! Schrödinger's ca Schrödinger's cat Schrödinger's cat's a mystery cat, he illustrates the laws; The complicated things he does have no apparent cause; He baffles the determinist, and drives him to despair For when they try to pin him down--the quantum cat's not there! Schrödinger's cat's a mystery cat, he's given to random decisions; His mass is slightly altered by a cloud of virtual kittens; The vacuum fluctuations print his traces in the air But if you try to find him, the quantum cat's not there! Schrödinger's cat's a mystery cat, he's very small and light, And if you try to pen him in, he tunnels out of sight; So when the cruel scientist confined him in a box With poison-capsules, triggered by bizarre atomic clocks, He wasn't alive, he wasn't dead, or half of each; I swear That when they fixed his eigenstate--he simply wasn't there! John Lowell Old Possum's Book of Quantum Vivisection Physics Today, April 1989 Imitation is the highest form of flattery!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Anne ✨ Finds Joy

    (3.5) A cute collection of cat poetry by T.S. Elliot, and wonderful ink drawing illustrations by Edward Gorey. This book is the inspiration for the musical Cats! It's a quick read at 56 pages. I enjoyed the illustrations as much/if not more than the poems :) My favorite poem was this one: (excerpt) The Rum Tum Tugger is a Curious Cat: If you offer him pheasant he would rather have grouse. If you put him in a house he would much prefer a flat, If you put him on a mouse then he only wants a rat, If you s (3.5) A cute collection of cat poetry by T.S. Elliot, and wonderful ink drawing illustrations by Edward Gorey. This book is the inspiration for the musical Cats! It's a quick read at 56 pages. I enjoyed the illustrations as much/if not more than the poems :) My favorite poem was this one: (excerpt) The Rum Tum Tugger is a Curious Cat: If you offer him pheasant he would rather have grouse. If you put him in a house he would much prefer a flat, If you put him on a mouse then he only wants a rat, If you set him on a rat then he'd rather chase a mouse. Yes the Rum Tum Tugger is a Curious Cat- And there isn't any call for me to shout it: For he will do As he do do And there's no doing anything about it! 😂😻

  27. 5 out of 5

    Moonkiszt

    T. S. Eliot. . .a funny old sort. And must have enjoyed cats a lot. . .in his writing exercises he writes of them and plays with words about and around them. For instance, "jellicle" cats - what the heck is that? They are mentioned in his 1933 poem "Five-Finger Exercises" - but they are not defined, exactly. A later poem implies that Jellicle cats are black and white, scruffy and live on the other side of the day. Why concern myself with jellicle anything? Because of the musical CATS! which spran T. S. Eliot. . .a funny old sort. And must have enjoyed cats a lot. . .in his writing exercises he writes of them and plays with words about and around them. For instance, "jellicle" cats - what the heck is that? They are mentioned in his 1933 poem "Five-Finger Exercises" - but they are not defined, exactly. A later poem implies that Jellicle cats are black and white, scruffy and live on the other side of the day. Why concern myself with jellicle anything? Because of the musical CATS! which sprang out of T. S. Eliot's poem Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats. I watched the latest rendition of that musical, and pronounced it brilliant and recommended it to all my friends and family. From out of the texts on my phone came a swipe upside my head from my actor/director/theatre owner sister, who had this to say: "Oh dear God! Were you on qualuuds or something?! That thing is horrible!! Yikes. Love you anyway." **sigh** I loved it. Still do. And as the last credits ran, saw that the play was attributed to a poem by T. S. Eliot. What??? How had I missed that? I miss so many things. . . .so began my search, which, because no one was really hiding anything from me, quickly turned up the poem. About cats. I've spent my first 45 years in the company of cats, and love them. I just don't have any pets now - have spent tooooooo much time care taking of my elderly humans to want any more anyones to care for - but I still remember all my cats. And T. S. Eliot's poem is perfect - it describes all the different kinds of cats - irascible, indifferent, superior, needy, not needy, twerky, cool, scruffy, acrobatic, magical, wicked, wise, sexy, dumpy, wild, sneaky, shy, sleepy, sly and lovable. So many kinds of cats. And this poem gathers them all up and spreads them out to see. Beyond categorizing types of cats, there is a boatload of cat wisdom Eliot shares, such as the proper way to name a cat. . .important stuff this. First, the family use name; then a fancy name, you know, formal-like; and then finally the most important as described by Eliot: But above and beyond there's still one name left over, And that is the name that you never will guess; The name that no human research can discover -- But the cat himself knows, and will never confess. When you notice a cat in profound meditation, The reason, I tell you, is always the same: His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name: His ineffable effable Effanineffable Deep and inscrutable singular Name. (For example, we had a cat. . .who prior to being our cat was called by his ejecting family "Sylvester" - he was full, fluffy, had 6 toes on each huge foot, was mostly black but had luxurious swathes of white, placed about his feline person. We renamed him - family name was Winston; formal was Winston Churchill Jensen, and his ineffable effable name? We of course never knew, but he spent 93.5% of his time contemplating it. He's under mother's old-fashioned roses, safe these many years.) Like cats? Like poetry? pull this one up and enjoy. Available on Scribd. You are welcome!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Davie Bennett

    Little-known fact, this book of children's poetry by T.S. Eliot was the inspiration for the cringe-worthy Broadway musical, "Cats." Many of the poems are the lyrics, verbatim, for the show. But if you, like so many others, are revulsed or terrified by the thought of those cavorting, feline freaks on stage, well, just try and put it out of your mind. These are fun poems for kids, and would make great bedtime reading! Unless you are a dog family, in which case you should probably go with "Clifford Little-known fact, this book of children's poetry by T.S. Eliot was the inspiration for the cringe-worthy Broadway musical, "Cats." Many of the poems are the lyrics, verbatim, for the show. But if you, like so many others, are revulsed or terrified by the thought of those cavorting, feline freaks on stage, well, just try and put it out of your mind. These are fun poems for kids, and would make great bedtime reading! Unless you are a dog family, in which case you should probably go with "Clifford" or something.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Connie G

    I read this years ago before I saw the musical "Cats". The book is charming and funny, and really captures the personalities of the cats. It's a wonderful little book! I read this years ago before I saw the musical "Cats". The book is charming and funny, and really captures the personalities of the cats. It's a wonderful little book!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Paul Haspel

    Old T.S. Eliot really could do it all; he could write poetry to suit any mood or occasion. You want a hellish descent into the despair of a lonely, middle-aged man? Fine, here’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” (1915). You want the definitive, epic setting-forth of the bleak modernist abyss, with countless literary and cultural allusions blasting at you in bits and pieces, like a radio forever set on “Seek”? Alright, here’s The Waste Land (1922). And if all you want is a series of whimsical Old T.S. Eliot really could do it all; he could write poetry to suit any mood or occasion. You want a hellish descent into the despair of a lonely, middle-aged man? Fine, here’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” (1915). You want the definitive, epic setting-forth of the bleak modernist abyss, with countless literary and cultural allusions blasting at you in bits and pieces, like a radio forever set on “Seek”? Alright, here’s The Waste Land (1922). And if all you want is a series of whimsical little poems about cats, written for one’s godchildren? No trouble at all. Welcome to Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats (1939). Many readers in the present day, of course, come to Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats via the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Cats (1981) – one of the most successful musicals of all time. To date, Cats has generated over $3 billion in box-office receipts; it ran in London’s West End for 21 years and almost 9,000 performances (6th longest for any show in British theatrical history), and on Broadway for 18 years and almost 7,500 performances (4th longest for any show in American theatrical history). In terms of box-office success and cultural influence, Cats is a monster. And for that reason, it can be instructive, and fun, to go back to the little book of poetry with which it all began. Eliot has a sometimes-deserved reputation for being difficult; when I first encountered The Waste Land as a college undergraduate in Tidewater Virginia, I found it daunting that various publishers had felt obliged to publish the poem complete with Eliot’s own explanatory notes. But one can check one’s lit-crit credentials at the door when reading Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. Writing for a youthful audience, Eliot is working here to entertain and have fun. Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, in the best traditions of literature for children, takes elements of everyday life and infuses them with magic – as in the opening poem of this 15-poem cycle, “The Naming of Cats,” in which the speaker informs the reader that “a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES.” We learn further that beyond a cat’s first, everyday name, and a second name “that’s peculiar, and more dignified,” the cat has a third and undiscoverable mystery name: But above and beyond there’s still one name left over, And that is the name that you never will guess; The name that no human research can discover – But THE CAT HIMSELF KNOWS, and will never confess. (p. 1) It is the kind of detail that is likely to spark a child’s imagination – and it is rendered in poetry of a wonderful musicality. One need not have Lloyd Webber’s tunes, fine though they are, to enjoy Eliot’s poetry. The cats of Old Possum are “jellicle cats,” with that mystical identity of which only the cats are aware. And the cats are gathering for a mystical confabulation, as set forth in “The Song of the Jellicles”: Jellicle Cats come out to-night Jellicle Cats come one come all: The Jellicle Moon is shining bright – Jellicles come to the Jellicle Ball. (p. 17) I love that word “jellicle.” It has echoes of “jealous” and “fickle” – both concepts that are popularly associated with cats. A good poet is always aware of the rhythms and nuances and associations inherent in language, and T.S. Eliot is a great poet. Sometimes, it can be difficult to separate Eliot’s poetry from Lloyd Webber’s music; and the more famous a song is, the more that is the case. For instance, a highlight of Cats – as I noticed when I saw it with my wife at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. – is “Macavity: The Mystery Cat,” which is staged as a slinky, 1930’s-style jazz number, with an Al Capone-looking Macavity flanked by two sexy gangster’s-moll she-cats. It was hard for me to keep the tune out of my head while reading Eliot’s account of this lawbreaking cat: Macavity, Macavity, there’s no one like Macavity, He’s broken every human law, he breaks the law of gravity, His powers of levitation would make a fakir stare, And when you reach the scene of crime – Macavity’s not there! (p. 37) That’s not always the case, however. One can remember the way “The Rum Tum Tugger” is adapted for the stage – with the Rum Tum Tugger portrayed as a leather-clad, Jim Morrison-style rocker – and at the same time create one’s own mental image of the character. Part of the fun of reading Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats inheres in savouring the poems’ vividly rendered London setting. One also senses the sheer joy that Eliot took in playing with language – in incorporating into his poetry all of the different voices that he heard in Britain and America. I enjoyed, for example, the working-class Londoner's voice that Eliot takes on for “Cat Morgan Introduces Himself”: I once was a Pirate what sailed the ’igh seas – But now I’ve retired as a com-mission-aire: And that’s how you find me a-takin’ my ease And keepin’ the door in a Bloomsbury Square. (p. 56) Cats fans, please take note: there is no Grizabella, and no show-stopping “Memory,” in Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. Indeed, that whole main plot of Cats – the one wherein the reason for the jellicle cats' gathering is to decide which one of them gets to be born into a new life – is nowhere to be found in this book. So, where in cat-nation did all that come from? The answer is that Andrew Lloyd Webber, thorough as always, went through T.S. Eliot’s other cat poems – the ones that aren’t published here – and constructed the libretto for Cats on that basis. With Old Possum, one is introduced to an otherworldly setting in which cats can express themselves in a variety of dialects and variations of British English; various cats do so in turn; and the book ends. It was enough for me. Perhaps it’ll be enough for you as well. The edition of Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats that I have before me – one that I checked out from George Mason University’s library, before the coronavirus/COVID-19 outbreak closed the libraries at GMU and almost every other university in the country – is from 1982. In an evident nod to the popularity of Cats, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich commissioned artist Edward Gorey to illustrate this edition, and Gorey’s zestful, vivid line drawings complement well the playful quality of these poems. I would go on with this appreciation of Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, but I must stop for now. You see, our tabby cat Rory is nibbling on my right knee, and he simply will not stop until I step away from my laptop computer and start petting him. He can be quite jellicle, you know.

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