Cat (poem)

From Tolkien Gateway
The name Cat refers to more than one character, item or concept. For a list of other meanings, see Cat (disambiguation).

Cat is a poem written by Sam Gamgee and recorded in the Red Book of Westmarch, although at most he only touched up an older piece. Hobbits appear to have been fond of comic bestiary lore, of which this is an example.[1]

The poem contains two stanzas composed of alternating longer and shorter lines. It relies on assonance, the refrain of vowel sounds, to create internal rhyming.

Tolkien wrote the poem for his granddaughter in 1956.[2] He apparently made use in the poem of a device found in medieval bestiaries (several such manuscripts are kept by the Bodleian Library at Oxford): the pairing of lions and pards.[3]

It was published as the twelfth poem in The Adventures of Tom Bombadil (1962).[4] The poem has also been published separately in the anthology The Poetical Cat (1995).

The Poem

The fat cat on the mat
   may seem to dream
of nice mice that suffice
   for him, or cream;
but he free, maybe,
   walks in thought
unbowed, proud, where loud
   roared and fought
his kin, lean and slim,
   or deep in den
in the East feasted on beasts
   and tender men.

The giant lion with iron
   claw in paw,
and huge ruthless tooth
   in gory jaw;
the pard,[note 1] dark-starred,
   fleet upon feet,
that oft soft from aloft
   leaps on his meat
where woods loom in gloom--
   far now they be,
   fierce and free,
   and tamed is he;
but fat cat on the mat
   kept as a pet,
   he does not forget.

See also


  1. Pard can refer to:
    1) an archaic term for leopard
    2) a feline creature in medieval bestiaries