Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats is a collection of whimsical poems by T. S. Eliot about feline psychology and sociology, published by Faber and Faber. It is the basis for the record-setting musical Cats. The poems were written during the 1930s and included by Eliot, under his assumed name “Old Possum,” in letters to his god-children. They were collected and published in 1939 with cover illustrations by the author (Source: Wikipedia, Aug. 2011).
These poems are beloved by readers, and cat lovers, the world over. Few would criticise T.S. Elliot’s credentials as a poet. So only a fool would try to re-write his work given such well-loved subject matter, and the prestigious status of the original author. Only a fool, and me.
I do not contend that my attempt is of the same quality as the original source material. In fact, I offer no guarantee as to the quality of my effort, and I leave it entirely up to the reader to judge. Please be kind, as anyone who attempts something like this must clearly be a little ‘off their rocker’.
The Song of the Jellifieds.
Jellified Cats come out at night,
The Jellied Moon holds them in thrall:
Jellified Cats yearn to embrace its light,
Feeding and growing ‘til they are squishy and small.
Jellified Cats are not nice fried;
Jellified Cats do rather smell.
Jellified Cats are meaty when pied,
A pleasant taste, when on tongue they dwell.
Jellified Cats have rubbery faces,
Jellified Cats have hollows for eyes;
Of gelatine there are many traces,
When Jellified Cats cry as each brethren dies.
Jellified Cats must be eaten slowly,
Jellified Cats are best not to pig;
Those who do become roly-poly,
Jelli-full, they can’t breakdance, or jig.
Until the Jellied Moon appears
They change their colours during their repose:
Jellified Cats wash behind their ears,
And multi-hued oozes flow between their toes.
Jellified Cats are aren’t white and black,
Jellified Cats are of edible size;
Jellified Cats jump like a jumping-jack,
When Jellified Cats land in your insides.
They are quiet enough in the morning hours,
They are quiet enough in the afternoon,
Reserving their emetic-inducing powers,
To keep you awake, under the Jellied Moon.
Jellified Cats aren’t black and white,
Jellified Cats are ickle and small;
If it happens to be a stormy night,
The rain dissolves them into a sticky sprawl.
If it happens the sun is shining bright,
You would see them melting, one and all:
They flow, an oozing conglomerite,
The Jellified Cats squishing into a Jelly Ball.
A nonsense poem by T. James, August 2011, based on an original poem:
“The Song of the Jellicles”, by T.S. Elliot.
Jellicle Cats come out to-night
Jellicle Cats come one come all:
The Jellicle Moon is shining bright -
Jellicles come to the Jellicle Ball.
Jellicle Cats are black and white,
Jellicle Cats are rather small;
Jellicle Cats are merry and bright,
And pleasant to hear when they caterwaul.
Jellicle Cats have cheerful faces,
Jellicle Cats have bright black eyes;
They like to practise their airs and graces
And wait for the Jellicle Moon to rise.
Jellicle Cats develop slowly,
Jellicle Cats are not too big;
Jellicle Cats are roly-poly,
They know how to dance a gavotte and a jig.
Until the Jellicle Moon appears
They make their toilette and take their repose:
Jellicle Cats wash behind their ears,
Jellicle dry between their toes.
Jellicle Cats are white and black,
Jellicle Cats are of moderate size;
Jellicle Cats jump like a jumping-jack,
Jellicle Cats have moonlit eyes.
They’re quitet enough in the morning hours,
They’re quitet enough in the afternoon,
Reserving their terpsichorean powers
To dance by the light of the Jellicle Moon.
Jellicle Cats are black and white,
Jellicle Cats (as I said) are small;
If it happends to be a stormy night
They will practise a caper or two in the hall.
If it happens the sun is shining bright
You would say they had nothing to do at all:
They are resting and saving themselves to be right
For the Jellicle Moon and the Jellicle Ball.