Christopher Smart’s Cat

For all of you cat lovers out there, this is one of my most favorite poems. Excerpt from Jubilate Agno.

For I will consider my Cat Jeoffry.
For he is the servant of the Living God duly and daily
serving him.
For at the first glance of the glory of God in the East he
worships in his way.
For this is done by wreathing his body seven times round
with elegant quickness.
For then he leaps up to catch the musk, which is the
blessing of God upon his prayer.
For he rolls upon prank to work it in.
For having done duty and received blessing he begins to
consider himself.
For this he performs in ten degrees.
For first he looks upon his forepaws to see if they are
clean.
For secondly he kicks up behind to clear away there.
For thirdly he works it upon stretch with the forepaws
extended.
For fourthly he sharpens his paws by wood.
For fifthly he washes himself.
For sixthly he rolls upon wash.
For seventhly he fleas himself, that he may not be
interrupted upon the beat.
For eighthly he rubs himself against a post.
For ninthly he looks up for his instructions.
For tenthly he goes in quest of food.
For having consider’d God and himself he will consider his
neighbour.
For if he meets another cat he will kiss her in kindness.
For when he takes his prey he plays with it to give it a
chance.
For one mouse in seven escapes by his dallying.
For when his day’s work is done his business more
properly begins.
For he keeps the Lord’s watch in the night against the
adversary.
For he counteracts the powers of darkness by his electrical
skin and glaring eyes.
For he counteracts the Devil, who is death, by brisking
about the life.
For in his morning orisons he loves the sun and the sun
loves him.
For he is of the tribe of Tiger.
For the Cherub Cat is a term of the Angel Tiger.
For he has the subtlety and hissing of a serpent, which in
goodness he suppresses.
For he will not do destruction, if he is well-fed, neither will
he spit without provocation.
For he purrs in thankfulness, when God tells him he’s a good Cat.
For he is an instrument for the children to learn benevolence upon.
For every house is incomplete without him and a blessing I
s lacking in the spirit.
For the Lord commanded Moses concerning the cats at the departure of the Children of Israel from Egypt.
For every family had one cat at least in the bag.
For the English Cats are the best in Europe.
For he is the cleanest in the use of his forepaws of any
quadruped.
For the dexterity of his defence is an instance of the love of
God to him exceedingly.
For he is the quickest to his mark of any creature.
For he is tenacious of his point.
For he is a mixture of gravity and waggery.
For he knows that God is his Saviour.
For there is nothing sweeter than his peace when at rest.
For there is nothing brisker than his life when in motion.
For he is of the Lord’s poor and so indeed is he called by
benevolence perpetually—Poor Jeoffry! poor Jeoffry! the rat has
bit thy throat.
For I bless the name of the Lord Jesus that Jeoffry is better.
For the divine spirit comes about his body to sustain it in complete cat.
For his tongue is exceeding pure so that it has in purity what it
wants in music.
For he is docile and can learn certain things.
For he can set up with gravity which is patience upon
approbation.
For he can fetch and carry, which is patience in employment.
For he can jump over a stick which is patience upon proof
positive.
For he can spraggle upon waggle at the word of command.
For he can jump from an eminence into his master’s bosom.
For he can catch the cork and toss it again.
For he is hated by the hypocrite and miser.
For the former is afraid of detection.
For the latter refuses the charge.
For he camels his back to bear the first notion of business.
For he is good to think on, if a man would express himself
neatly.
For he made a great figure in Egypt for his signal services.
For he killed the Ichneumon-rat very pernicious by land.
For his ears are so acute that they sting again.
For from this proceeds the passing quickness of his attention.
For by stroking of him I have found out electricity.
For I perceived God’s light about him both wax and fire.
For the Electrical fire is the spiritual substance, which God
sends from heaven to sustain the bodies both of man and beast.
For God has blessed him in the variety of his movements.
For, tho he cannot fly, he is an excellent clamberer.
For his motions upon the face of the earth are more
than any other quadruped.
For he can tread to all the measures upon the music.
For he can swim for life.
For he can creep.