Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T. S. Eliot (Review)

Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T. S. Eliot, illustrated by Edward Gorey

9780571321261

About the author

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Edward Stearns Eliot born 1888 in St Louis, Missouri, USA. He settled in England in 1915 and published his book of poems in 1917. Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats began life as a collection of poems dedicated to his godchildren, it was published in 1939. Eliot received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948 and sadly died in 1965.

About the Illustrator

Gorey28

Edward Gorey (1925-2000) was an American writer and artist well known for his macabre and humorous illustrations. His first book, The Unstrung Harp; or, My Earbrass Writes a Novel (1953) was followed by many more. He illustrated work by T. S. Eliot, Edward Lear and Saki, among others.

Blurb

Cats! Some are sane and some are mad. And some are good and some are bad.

Review

I read this book as soon as I brought it home, but I read it in a very special way. I put on the musical movie starring Elaine Paige and John Mills and read the poems along with the musical, I might have also sang along as well. In short I had way too much fun and my poor husband had to endure a great deal.

I absolutely loved this book, I love the poems and I love the illustrations. It is all wonderful and I’m not sure I can choose a favourite poem because how can anyone choose a favourite cat?

The main thing I love is how all the different cats have attributes you can see in real life cats. I can certainly see many familiarities with the cats in the book with my own cats. T. S. Eliot clearly owned and had a lot of love for cats in his lifetime.

My favourite poem and cat was The Rum Tum Tugger he is just the epitome of cats. When you offer a cat some yummy food they would rather have something else, when you offer them fresh water they would rather drink from a puddle and so on.

I had amazing fun with this book and to be honest I keep going back to it now and reading my favourites. I also loved how the illustrations perfectly complimented the poems. I can not recommend this book enough to people especially if they are cat lovers, a quick read and would make a perfect gift to the cat lover in your life. I gave this book a massive 5 out of 5 Dragons.

Lady Book Dragon.

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Friday Poetry

This week it is another cat poem because I have discovered the perfect poem for our fat cat Pan and here it is!

Have a good weekend everyone.

 

Bustopher Jones: The Cat About Town

 

Bustopher Jones is not skin and bones –

In fact, he’s remarkably fat.

He doesn’t haunt pubs- he has eight or nine clubs,

For he’s the St James’s Street Cat!

He’s the Cat we all greet as he walks down the street

In his coat of fastidious black:

No commonplace mousers have such well-cut trousers

Or such an impeccable back.

In the whole of St James’s the smartest of names is 

The name of this Brummell of Cats;

And we’re all of us proud to be nodded or bowed to

By Bustophers Jones in white spats!

His visits are occasional to the Senior Educational

And it is against the rules

For any one Cat to belong both to that

And the Joint Superior Schools.

For a similar reason, when game is in season

He is found, not at Fox’s, but Blimp’s;

But he’s frequently seen at the gay Stage and Screen

Which is famous for winkles and shrimps.

In the season of venison he gives his ben’son

To the Pothunter’s succulent bones;

And just before noon’s not a moment too soon

To drop in for drink at the Drones.

When he’s seen in a hurry there’s probably curry

At the Siamese- or at the Glutton;

If he looks full of gloom then he’s lunched at the Tomb

On cabbage, rice pudding and mutton.

So, much in this way, passes Bustopher’s day-

At one club or another he’s found.

It can cause no surprise that under our eyes

He has grown unmistakably round.

He’s a twenty-five pounder, or I am a bounder,

And he’s putting on weight every day:

But he’s so well preserved because he’s observed

All his life a routine, so he’ll say.

And (to put it in rhyme) ‘I shall last out my time’

Is the word for this stoutest of Cats.

It must and it shall be Spring in Pall Mall

While Bustopher Jones wears white spats!

 

T. S. Eliot

 

My very own Bustopher Jones!

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Lady Book Dragon

Friday Poetry

I have a little confession, I am absolutely obsessed with Cats the musical and love the poems by T. S. Eliot, so I thought it was high time I put a cat poem on my blog. I have put my favourite cat up first, because who doesn’t love a mystery cat?

 

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 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!

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 domed;

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 find a Treaty’s gone astray,

Or the Admirality lose some plans and drawings by the way,

There may be a scrap of paper in the hall or on the stair –

But it’s useless to 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 Macavity,

There never was a Cat of such deceitfulness and suavity.

He always has an alibi, and one or two to spare:

At whatever time the deed took place-

MACAVITY WASN’T THERE!

And when 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!

 

T. S. Eliot

 

Happy Friday Everyone!

The cat in the picture is my cat Pan, even though he is not ginger and rather large, he is never there and very difficult to find, just like Macavity. Also if something happens in our house it generally is Pan, but you can never catch him in the act. He is also very difficult to photograph, this is probably the best picture I have of him.

Lady Book Dragon.

 

 

Friday Poetry

On the 6th January it will be Epiphany when the Kings arrive to see Jesus, so I have chosen a poem to reflect this ocassion. This is also one of my favourites that I did at school.

Journey of the Magi

“A cold coming we had of it,

Just the worst time of the year

For a journey, and such a long journey:

The ways deep and the weathers sharp,

The very dead of winter.”

And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,

Lying down in the melting snow.

There were times we regretted

The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,

And the silken girls bringing sherbet.

Then the camel men cursing and grumbling

And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,

And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,

And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly

And the villages dirty and charging high prices:

A hard time we had of it.

At the end we preferred to travel all night,

Sleeping in snatches,

With the voices singing in our ears, saying

That this was all folly.

 

 

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,

Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation, 

With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,

And three trees on the low sky.

And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.

Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,

Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,

And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.

But there was no information, so we continued

And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon

Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.

 

 

All this was a long time ago, I remember, 

And I would do it again, but set down

This set down

This: were we led all that way for

Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,

We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,

But had thought they were different; this Birth was 

Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.

We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,

But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,

With an alien people clutching their gods.

I should be glad of another death.

 

T. S. Eliot

 

Lady Book Dragon