Let’s face it: you have rotten days. We all do. There are days when it seems like there is nothing good in your life. That said, everyone has some object of solace, which is to say, something that is undeniably awesome all the time, every day. It might be a quilt from your grandmother, the tree outside your window, your best pair of shoes, or even a pet. For Christopher Smart (b. 1722), it was his cat, Jeoffry.
There are many old, “important” poems that are hard to get at, to tease apart what exactly the author was writing about. Not this one: Chris is talking about how awesome his cat was (and, if we’re honest, how his cat is working in the service of god--but that’s extra information that is neither here nor there for the prompt). For our purposes, however, this poem is a list of awesome things about his cat.
Your assignment for today to pick one thing in your life that is always great, no matter how bad your day is, and write a poem in its praise. Like so many of these assignments, the goal to examine something you've seen a thousand times before on a level you haven't thought about. Where did this amazing thing come from? Why is it so important? What are its qualities that set it apart from other things? Have you imbued with a story it tells itself? Is it aware of its own importance?
These are the things that stick around, that we share with a select few, that we keep in case we have kids because obviously they will love it as much as we do. Sometimes things are damn important.
Excerpt from “Jubilate Agno, Fragment B, [For I will consider my Cat, Jeoffry]”
by Christopher Smart
For he can fetch and carry, which is patience in employment.
For he can jump over a stick, which is patience upon proof positive.
For he can spraggle upon waggle at the word of command.
For he can jump from an eminence into his master’s bosom.
For he can catch the cork and toss it again.
For he is hated by the hypocrite and miser.
For the former is afraid of detection.
For the latter refuses the charge.
For he camels his back to bear the first notion of business.
For he is good to think on, if a man would express himself neatly.
For he made a great figure in Egypt for his signal services.
For he killed the Icneumon rat, very pernicious by land.
For his ears are so acute that they sting again.
For from this proceeds the passing quickness of his attention.
For by stroking of him I have found out electricity.
For I perceived God’s light about him both wax and fire.
For the electrical fire is the spiritual substance which God sends
from heaven to sustain the
bodies both of man and beast.
For God has blessed him in the variety of his movements.
For, though he cannot fly, he is an excellent clamberer.
For his motions upon the face of the earth are more than any other quadruped.
For he can tread to all the measures upon the music.
For he can swim for life.
For he can creep.
Are you keeping up with the prompts? Do you have one you feel really good about? Or a poem you've started before and have been compelled to finish during NaPoWriMo? Don't forget to send us your poems for publication on this here blog: firstname.lastname@example.org.