Thursday, November 19, 2009

Henry Beard

I was looking at my blog today and decided it was high-time I removed the picture of me at the beach - oh how short was summer! - and replaced it with Kitten on a Keyboard, with an excerpt from one of my favorite poets, Henry Beard. Mr. Beard is an amazingly inventive poet who takes famous poets' poems and re-writes them as that poet's cat. The excerpt caption of Kitten on a Keyboard is a play upon Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself" from "Leaves of Grass", called "Meow of Myself" from "Leaves of Catnip" included in his book "Poetry for Cats". I know, I told you he was clever. I love this little book and highly recommend it to any English major, cat lover, or poetry reader, or anyone who vaguely remembers reading poetry in school and not getting it.

Here's a take on Carl Sandberg's "Fog":

Thunderstorm by Carl Sandberg's Cat

The storm comes in
on big human feet.

It goes stomping
across harbor and city
in clumsy hipboots
and then plods on.

I considered this one for Kitten on a Keyboard, but the quote was too long:

The Love Song J. Morris Housecat
by T. S. Eliot's Cat

Let us roam then, you and I,
When the evening is splayed out across the sky
Like a kitten neutered on a laboratory slab;
Let us stray on paths through neighbor's yards
Behind the boulevards
Where raccoons scuttle in the refuse bins
Scattering cellophane and potato skins;
Paths that follow like a nagging accusation
Of a minor violation
To lead you to the ultimate reproof...
Oh do not say "Bad kitty!"
Let us go and prowl the city.

But my favorite is Shakespeare's cat's soliloquy:

Hamlet's Cat's Soliloquy from Hamlet's Cat
by Wm. Shakespeare's Cat:

To go outside, and there perchance to stay
Or to remain within: that is the question:
Whether 'tis better for a cat to suffer
The cuffs and buffets of inclement weather
That Nature rains on those who roam abroad,
Or take a nap upon a scrap of carpet,
And so by dozing melt the solid hours
That clog the clock's bright gears with sullen time
And stall the dinner bell. To sit, to stare
Outdoors, and by a stare seem to state
A wish to venture forth without delay,
Then when the portal's opened up, to stand
As if transfixed by doubt. To prowl; to sleep;
To choose not knowing when we may once more
Our readmittance gain: aye, there's the hairball...

And it goes on for the whole length of the poem, with the famous line "Thus caution doth make housecats of us all", and the ever profound humanity of

And since our choices hinge on weighty things
We pause upon the threshold of decision.

I love this man. I hope you are laughing as you read this, and want to purchase his book, too.


  1. LOVE the poem & the photo :) That kitty probably loves to be on that laptop because it's warm. SO stinkin' cute! :) Enjoyed it.

  2. The photo is adorable! Great post!

  3. Love the kitten pic, and being an English Major, love the idea of a whole book of this's hilarious..reminds me of an old friend, years ago, who named his cats after famous composers-Pussini, Rimsky-Katzakov, etc.

  4. Awwww! That picture is definitely my cuteness overload for the day.

  5. Ok, that's the cutest cat picture I have ever seen.

  6. This post is priceless! The sweet white kitten sleeping on the keyboard and the wonderful cat poetry of Henry Beard warm my heart!

  7. So cute photo and lovely poem!!!!! Thanks for sharing!!!

  8. Wow, those are much better poetry rewrites than I was expecting! The Hamlet one is totally the best. Do your ever read Two Lumps, the comic about a couple cats? They do a lot of poetry and music homages; I think their "Puttin' on The Ritz" is great.:)

  9. This is an adorable pic! Makes me want another kitten...

  10. T.S. Eliot is my favorite! What a lovely picture too :]

  11. Love it! I also love your blog and the pieces you create. Such talent!

  12. The kitty is so cute!

    aikychien at yahoo dot com