Mary Robinson ( )

Mistress Gurtons Cat

A Tabby, loveliest of the race,
Sleek as a doe, and tame, and fat
With velvet paws, and whiskerd face;
The Doves of VENUS not so fair,
Nor JUNOS Peacocks half so grand
The proudest of the purring band;
So dignified in all her paces--
She seemd, a pupil of the Graces!
There never was a finer creature
In all the varying whims of Nature!

All liked Grimalkin, passing well!
Save MISTRESS GURTON, and, tis said,
She oft with furious ire would swell,
When, through neglect or hunger keen,
Puss, with a pilferd scrap, was seen,
Swearing beneath the pent-house shed:
For, like some favrites, she was bent
On all things, yet with none content;
And still, whateer her place or diet,
She could not pick her bone, in quiet.

Sometimes, new milk GRIMALKIN stole,
And sometimes--over-set the bowl!
For over eagerness will prove,
Oft times the bane of what we love;
And sometimes, to her neighbours home,
GRIMALKIN, like a thief would roam,
Teaching poor Cats, of humbler kind,
For high example sways the mind!
Sometimes she paced the garden wall,

Thick guarded by the shatterd pane,
And lightly treading with disdain,
Feard not Ambitions certain fall!
Old China broke, or scratchd her Dame
And brought domestic friends to shame!
And many a time this Cat was curst,
Of squalling, thieving things, the worst!
Wishd Dead ! and menancd with a string,
For Cats of such scant Fame, deservd to swing!

One day, report, for ever busy,
Resolvd to make Dame Gurton easy;
A Neighbour came, with solemn look,
And thus, the dismal tidings broke.
Know you, that poor GRIMALKIN died
Last night, upon the pent-house side?
I heard her for assistance call;
I heard her shrill and dying squall!
I heard her, in reproachful tone,
Pour, to the stars, her feeble groan!

Alone, I heard her piercing cries--
With not a Friend to close her Eyes!
Poor Puss ! I vow it grieves me sore,
Never to see thy beauties more!
Never again to hear thee purr,
To stroke thy back, of Zebra fur;
To see thy emrald eyes--so bright,
Flashing around their lustrous light
Amid the solemn shades of night!

Methinks I see her pretty paws--
As gracefully she paced along;
I hear her voice, so shrill, among
The chimney rows ! I see her claws,
While, like a Tyger, she pursued
Undauntedly the pilfring race;
I see her lovely whiskerd face
When she her nimble prey subdued!
And then, how she would frisk, and play,
And purr the Evening hours away:

Now stretchd beside the social fire;
Now on the sunny lawn, at noon,
Watching the vagrant Birds that flew,
Across the scene of varied hue,
To peck the Fruit. Or when the Moon
Stole oer the hills, in silvry suit,
How would she chaunt her lovelorn Tale
Soft as the wild Eolian Lyre!
Till evry brute, on hill, in dale,
Listend with wonder mute!

O! Cease! exclaimd DAME GURTON, straight,
Has my poor Puss been torn away?
Alas ! how cruel is my fate,
How shall I pass the tedious day?
Where can her mourning mistress find
So sweet a Cat? so meek! so kind!
So keen a mouser, such a beauty,
So orderly, so fond, so true,
That every gentle task of duty
The dear, domestic creature knew!
Hers, was the mildest tendrest heart!
She knew no little cattish art;
Not cross, like favrite Cats , was she
But seemd the queen of Cats to be!
I cannot live--since doomd, alas ! to part
From poor GRIMALKIN kind, the darling of my heart!

And now DAME GURTON, bathd in tears,
With a black top-knot vast, appears:
Some say that a black gown she wore,
As many oft have done before,
For Beings, valued less, I ween,
Than this, of Tabby Cats, the favrite Queen!
But lo ! soon after, one fair day,
Puss, who had only been a roving--
Across the pent-house took her way,
To see her Dame, so sad, and loving;
Eager to greet the mourning fair
She enterd by a window, where
A China bowl of luscious cream
Was quivring in the sunny beam.

Puss, who was somewhat tired and dry,
And somewhat fond of bevrage sweet;
Beholding such a tempting treat,
Resolved its depth to try.
She saw the warm and dazzling ray
Upon the spotless surface play:
She purrd around its circle wide,
And gazed, and longd, and mewd and sighd!
But Fate, unfriendly, did that hour controul,
She overset the cream, and smashd the gilded bowl!

As MISTRESS GURTON heard the thief,
She started from her easy chair,
And, quite unmindful of her grief,
Began aloud to swear!
Curse that voracious beast! she cried,
Here SUSAN bring a cord--
Ill hang the vicious, ugly creature--
The veriest plague eer formd by nature!
And MISTRESS GURTON kept her word--

Thus, often, we with anguish sore
The dead , in clamrous grief deplore;
Who, were they once alive again
Would meet the sting of cold disdain!
For FRIENDS, whom trifling faults can sever,
Are valued most , WHEN LOST FOR EVER!

Mary Robinson's other poems:
  1. To Cesario
  2. The Poor Singing Dame
  3. Sonnet to Evening
  4. Sonnet to My Beloved Daughter
  5. Sonnet 40. On the Low Margin

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