Don’t you love kids reciting poetry? A month or so ago my 12 year old daughter was reading her literature book for school. Her poem for the day was The Naming of Cats by T.S. Eliot. I love poetry that is well written and I immediately fell in love with this poem.
I quickly ordered Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats (Harvest Book) from my library. I have been thoroughly enjoying the poems contained in this book. I even discovered that the Broadway play “Cats” is based on these poems. As a child my parents took me to see this very play, so some of the poems are familiar. Anyway, I began having my 6 and 9 year old read the poem daily so they could memorize it. It has been a lot of fun and the results are here. First I will post the poem for your own reading pleasure and below that you can watch Gabriella and Joshua each recite it from memory. Joshua was being a bit silly and began with some sort of accent, which he happened to lose by the end. Do you have a favorite poem to recommend?
The Naming Of CatsThe Naming of Cats is a difficult matter,
It isn’t just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I’m as mad as a hatter
When I tell you, a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES.
First of all, there’s the name that the family use daily,
Such as Peter, Augustus, Alonzo or James,
Such as Victor or Jonathan, George or Bill Bailey—
All of them sensible everyday names.
There are fancier names if you think they sound sweeter,
Some for the gentlemen, some for the dames:
Such as Plato, Admetus, Electra, Demeter—
But all of them sensible everyday names.
But I tell you, a cat needs a name that’s particular,
A name that’s peculiar, and more dignified,
Else how can he keep up his tail perpendicular,
Or spread out his whiskers, or cherish his pride?
Of names of this kind, I can give you a quorum,
Such as Munkustrap, Quaxo, or Coricopat,
Such as Bombalurina, or else Jellylorum-
Names that never belong to more than one cat.
But above and beyond there’s still one name left over,
And that is the name that you never will guess;
The name that no human research can discover—
But THE CAT HIMSELF KNOWS, and will never confess.
When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:
His ineffable effable
Deep and inscrutable singular Name.