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Poetry for Cats: The Definitive Anthology of Distinguished Feline Verse
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Poetry for Cats: The Definitive Anthology of Distinguished Feline Verse

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  229 ratings  ·  45 reviews
In the vein of his bestselling French for Cats, Henry Beard has assembled a brilliant anthology of treasured works by feline poets. Includes " Do Not Go Gentle to That Damned Vet" by Dylan Thomas's cat, " The Human" by Edgar Allan Poe's cat and other works. Poetry for Cats will prove as thrilling as a stiff shot of catnip. Color illustrations.
Hardcover, 96 pages
Published October 25th 1994 by Villard
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Start your review of Poetry for Cats: The Definitive Anthology of Distinguished Feline Verse
Dec 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: People who like cats and poetry
Earlier today, we were walking past one of the open-air bookstalls on Rue de la Marché when I noticed a second-hand copy of this book. It opened naturally at the following poem, which I liked so much that I immediately had to read it aloud:
Kubla Kat
By Samuel Taylor Coleridge's Cat

In Xanadu did Kubla Kat
A splendid sofa-bed decree
With silken cushions soft and fat
A perfect feline habitat
Set on a gilt settee.
And twice ten yards of fine brocade
The golden ottoman arrayed:
And there were pillowsaloud:
Feb 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Premise/plot: Ever wonder what kind of poetry cats would write? What about the cats of famous poets?! In Henry Beard's Poetry for Cats he writes in the style (and punctuation) of some really famous poets from the perspective of their cats.

To go outside, and there perchance to stay/ Or to remain within: that is the question...William Shakespeare's cat

Vet, be not proud, though thou canst make cats die/ Thou livest but one life, while we live nine,/ And if our lives were half as bleak
Sep 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Love, love, love this book! It is hilarious, even if you have not read the original poems. But it is just that much better if you are familiar with the original works.


by Carl Sandburg's Cat

The storm comes
on big human feet.

It goes stomping
across harbor and city
in clumsy hipboots
and then plods on.
Laura Verret
Sep 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The cleverness of this collection is beyond compare. Each poem is a spoof of a famous poem from the annals of literature - Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, Shakespeare's Hamlet, Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven, etc. - only in these poems, the cat of the author or hero in question is the narrator of the poem. The Tale of Brave Beocat alone captured me; Whitman's Cat's "Meow of Myself" and The Love Song of J. Alfred Housecat positively converted me. Five thumbs up.
May 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Every cat and poetry lover should find delights to savor in this brilliant book; preferably, it should be read aloud to your cats. One ought to know the human versions of the poems for full appreciation, and it can help to know something of the life story of the poets so that you can fully appreciate their cats' POV. Consider for example:

The End of the Raven
by Edgar Allen Poe's Cat

On a night quite unenchanting, when a rain was downward slanting
I awakened to the ranting of/>The
Thomas Ray
Jun 07, 2014 rated it liked it
If cats could write poetry, in Henry Beard's Poetry for Cats: The Definitive Anthology of Distinguished Feline Verse, whose cat might have submitted an entry containing the following tale?

"On a night quite unenchanting, when the rain was downward slanting,
I awakened to the ranting of the man I catch mice for.
Tipsy and a bit unshaven, in a tone I found quite craven,
(He) was talking to a Raven perched above the chamber door.

Still the Raven never
Feb 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Lovers of felines and fine poetry
Who would’ve known? Every famous poet has owned a cat who wrote in the same style he did. For example, Lord Byron’s cat wrote “She Walks in Booties,” John Donne’s Cat wrote “Vet Be Not Proud,” Robert Frost’s cat wrote “Sitting by the Fire on a Snowy Evening,” and T. S. Eliot’s cat wrote “The Love Song of J. Morris Housecat.” By far the most charming was Poe’s cat, who didn’t sit idly by while his master chatted with the Raven: “Then I crouched and quickly leapt up, pouncing on the feathered bore ...more
Apr 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This is a cleverly done collection of famous poems which have been altered so that they are written from the point of view of the poet's cat, and are about cat-related topics. The poems cover such topics as vase-breaking, mouse-catching, visits to the vet, and advice to kittens such as "get ye a human while ye may." The verses rewritten include: Kubla Kat, The Prologue to Territory Lost, one of Hamlet's soliloquies, and She Walks in Booties. This collection will be appreciated by all cat lovers ...more
Sarah Sammis
Dec 21, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: released, pc, read-in-2005
I didn't enjoy this book as much as Beard's "French for Cats" and the follow up book. While some of these poems were great parodies on famous poetry, I often would have prefered to have read the originals!
Sep 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
Delightful! Cats rule!
Susanna - Censored by GoodReads
Jul 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, humor
My favorite is the parody of Leaves of Grass.
Mar 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Funny interpretation of cat poetry!

PS: The Raven must have tasted good!
May 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Garrison Keillor had Professional Organization of English Majors...and Henry Beard has obviously read a LOT of classic English! The Love Song of J. Morris Housecat as if by T. S. Eliot..

"And time for new digressions and transgressions
Before the taking of another nap." (p 69)
For I have known the ones who feed me, known them all--
Have known my humans well and leaned against their shins,
I have measured out my lives in catfood tins; (p 70)

e. e. cumming
Dec 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 18, poetry
Beautiful, brilliant, humorous collection of poems told from a cat's perspective. Beard expertly weaves the classic poet voices with cattitude, creatively capturing the essence of cat. I was familiar with many of the original poems, but not knowing some did not make the cat poems any less enjoyable. I loved this book so much that as soon as I finished it I immediately read it again. Then (since I had borrowed the book), I hopped over to Amazon to purchase a copy, because I must own this.
Jul 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literature
This is remarkable good. I thought it would be poems about cats from famous authors but instead it is poems supposedly done by cats of famous poets done in their style. It isn't easy to write poetry in these different styles and have them work. Some are silly but many are poignant and philosophical. I was impressed.
Jul 29, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: humour
About 40 poems, and I don't know most of the source poems. Mixed results.
Grendel's Dog, Hamlet's Cat's Soliloquy, Vet be not proud, To a vase, Sitting by the fire on a snowy evening, The love song of J Morris housecat, Parlor piece, Do not go peacable to that damn vet.
Jan 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: cats-and-dogs, rhyme
Kitty cat fun!
Jan 30, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: akron
I actually enjoy this more than the 'original verse' that these were based on!
Apr 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bought-owned
If you love cats and is in for a good laugh, this is a must read.
Robin Sencenbach Ferguson
Jan 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
A delight through and through! This slim little volume is based off the premise that the world's most famous poets all have cats--and they themselves wish to exert their literary talent! The result is a series of poems, including Shakespeare's cat contemplating whether he should or should not go outside (a la Hamlet's famous "to be or not to be" speech), Dylan Thomas's cat imploring his readers to not go quietly to the vet ("do not go quietly into that good night"), Edgar Allan Poe's cat penning ...more
For a review in Dutch, see Poetry originally written in other languages than Dutch of the Netherlands & Flanders group.

I came across Poetry For Cats years ago but completely forgot about it, to be honest, until a GR friend of mine read and rated it. And by now I am the proud owner of a lovely copy :-)

All poems are written from a cat's point of view of course, and are a lovely parody on the work of the great poets. Reading these poems made me smile, grin, chuckle and sometimes even laug
Oct 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
The author clearly loves both poetry and cats.

Years ago -- back when spam had to be sent via fax -- someone sent me "The End of the Raven, by Edgar Allan Poe's cat," and I loved it so much that I made a copy and tossed it in my "treasures" file. I dug it out this month when I learned that the kidlet was studying Poe in English class, and a little Googling revealed the source.

The Poe is a highlight:

While the bard and birdie chattered,
I made sure that nothing clattered,
Enni Gregas
Aug 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Read #2 on my 52 in 52 Quest: Delightful 70th birthday gift from Meagan and Matt who share my love of poetry and cats. This clever anthology opens where English literature begins, sort of, with "Grendel's Dog" from BEOCAT and prowls through the canon ending with "Meowl" by Allen Ginsberg's Cat. Hilarious and right on in terms of sending up the appropriate style, language, structure of each of these familiar works. For those who have loved/taught poetry---pour yourself a nice cup of tea or lovely ...more
Jun 17, 2012 rated it liked it
If you like poetry and you like cats, you'll probably like this book.
I was familiar with most of the poems which were being parodied so it made it a lot more fun.

If you're not into "classic" poetry and only like cats, it'll be hit-or-miss as to whether you'll like this book.

I thought it was fun.
Jul 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, humour
Brilliantly written cat-themed parodies of many well known poems. Beard cleverly captures the style of each writer with wit that all cat owners (or should I say servants) can relate to. Two of my favourites are Hamlet's Cat's Soliloquy by Shakespeare's cat and Meowl by Allen Ginsberg's cat.
Jul 24, 2014 rated it it was ok
Probably the stupidest collection of filks I've ever seen. I laughed at the Crane, WCW and Cummings riffs though.

(A man said to the universe... "Excellent," replied the universe. "I've been looking for someone to take care of my cats ")"
Mar 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: cats, animals
With the indigestible furball of the poem in the heart
coughed up out of their own bodies onto the absolute
center of the immaculate carpet of life

- from Meowl, by Allen Ginsberg's Cat

Highly recommended for all cat ladies and the people that love them.
Sep 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
The definitive anthology of distinguished feline verse. I wonder what Mercury writes when I'm not looking.

The storm comes on big human feet.
It goes stomping across harbor and city
in clumsy hipboots and then plods on.
-Carl Sandburg's Cat
Irish Gal
Dec 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Very funny, especially if you've ever been owned by a cat and know their idiosyncrasies. If you are knowledgable about poetry you'll enjoy it even more - he does an excellent job echoing the original works of the "cat owners" (poets).
Nov 26, 2016 added it
This is an grate
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Henry N. Beard (born ca. 1945) is an American humorist, one of the founders of the magazine National Lampoon and the author of several best-selling books.

Beard, a great-grandson of Vice President John C. Breckinridge, was born into a well-to-do family and grew up at the Westbury Hotel on East 69th Street in Manhattan. His relationship with his parents was cool, to judge by his quip "I
Hamlet's Cat's Soliloquy

"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 to 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;
For if a paw were shaped to turn a knob,
Or work a lock or slip a window-catch,
And going out and coming in were made
As simple as the breaking of a bowl,
What cat would bear the houselhold's petty plagues,
The cook's well-practiced kicks, the butler's broom,
The infant's careless pokes, the tickled ears,
The trampled tail, and all the daily shocks
That fur is heir to, when, of his own will,
He might his exodus or entrance make
With a mere mitten? Who would spaniels fear,
Or strays trespassing from a neighbor's yard,
But that the dread of our unheeded cries
And scraches at a barricaded door
No claw can open up, dispels our nerve
And makes us rather bear our humans' faults
Than run away to unguessed miseries?
Thus caution doth make house cats of us all;
And thus the bristling hair of resolution
Is softened up with the pale brush of thought,
And since our choices hinge on weighty things,
We pause upon the threshold of decision.”

"A man said to the universe,
'Sir, I exist!'
'Excellent,' replied the universe,
'I've been looking for someone to take care of my cats.”
More quotes…