Edward Thomas

(3 March 1878 - 9 April 1917 / London / England)

A Cat


She had a name among the children;
But no one loved though someone owned
Her, locked her out of doors at bedtime
And had her kittens duly drowned.

In Spring, nevertheless, this cat
Ate blackbirds, thrushes, nightingales,
And birds of bright voice and plume and flight,
As well as scraps from neighbours’ pails.

I loathed and hated her for this;
One speckle on a thrush’s breast
Was worth a million such; and yet
She lived long, till God gave her rest.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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  • Brian Eccles (6/14/2010 7:46:00 AM)

    This poem has haunted me since I was 13 years old. As a cat lover (and a bird lover) I identified with the poet, the cat and the birds all at once. Beautiful work.
    My cats have bells on their collars - very few successful bird hunts!
    B (Report) Reply

  • Greg Hutchinson (3/23/2006 2:44:00 AM)

    This is a perfect poem. We see the cat as flatly unsympathetic: even her owners lock her out and drown her kittens. But she's more than that: she kills thrushes and nightingales (and blackbirds, which are as colorful as crows and ravens aren't) and other creatures that we, as audience, prefer. But the larger forces of life (nature and 'God, ' whatever he, she, or it is) treat her more kindly. The poem is so understated that the last line is arresting and very tender. (Report) Reply

  • Eric Jump (2/25/2006 10:26:00 PM)

    This is a poem of welcome good fortune: to live a long life, being what she was meant to be despite all and then called home to rest by none other than God! Outdoor cats are in a war zone; pity Edward Thomas did not have the same good fortune. (Report) Reply

  • paper doll (8/19/2005 6:28:00 PM)

    I like it-the way the resilience of this cat is shown. leaves a bittersweet realisation tingling in my heart (Report) Reply

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