Thursday, February 21, 2008

Macavity: the mystery cat (T.S.Eliot)

Dead poet's society - session IV
Wednesday Feb 20 2008

Recited By: Vinod

T.S. Eliot wrote a lot of serious poetry. And then he wrote The Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats. Makes you wonder why he ever bothered with the serious stuff. Cats got made into a Broadway show and I believe still holds the record for the longest running Broadway show ever. A host of memorable cats in this book of poems, Mungojerrie, Griddlebone, Gus, Macavity, Rum Tum Tugger (the terrible bore), Rumpleteazer -- to name a few.

This poem is about Macavity, the mystery cat. Macavity is the Napolean of Crime and like Professor Moriarty of Sherlock Holmes fame, can never be connected with any of its crimes. The poem first, the Holmes' references later:

Macavity: the Mystery Cat

Macavity's a Mystery Cat: he's called the Hidden Paw -
For he's the master criminal who can defy the Law.
He's the bafflement of Scotland Yard, the Flying Squad's despair:
For when they reach the scene of crime - Macavity's not there!

Macavity, Macavity, there's no one like Macavity,
He's broken every human law, he breaks the law of gravity.
His powers of levitation would make a fakir stare,
And when you reach the scene of crime - Macavity's not there!
You may seek him in the basement, you may look up in the air -
But I tell you once and once again, Macavity's not there!

Mcavity's a ginger cat, he's very tall and thin;
You would know him if you saw him, for his eyes are sunken in.
His brow is deeply lined with thought, his head is highly domed;
His coat is dusty from neglect, his whiskers are uncombed.
He sways his head from side to side, with movements like a snake;
And when you think he's half asleep, he's always wide awake.

Macavity, Macavity, there's no one like Macavity,
For he's a fiend in feline shape, a monster of depravity.
You may meet him in a by-street, you may see him in the square -
But when a crime's discovered, then Macavity's not there!

He's outwardly respectable. (They say he cheats at cards.)
And his footprints are not found in any file of Scotland Yard's.
And when the larder's looted, or the jewel-case is rifled,
Or when the milk is missing, or another Peke's been stifled,
Or the greenhouse glass is broken, and the trellis past repair -
Ay, there's the wonder of the thing! Macavity's not there!

And when the Foreign Office find a Treaty's gone astray,
Or the Admiralty lose some plans and drawings by the way,
There may be a scrap of paper in the hall or on the stair -
But it's useless to investigate - Mcavity's not there!
And when the loss has been disclosed, the Secret Service say:
`It must have been Macavity!' - but he's a mile away.
You'll be sure to find him resting, or a-licking of his thumbs,
Or engaged in doing complicated long-division sums.

Macavity, Macavity, there's no one like Macavity,
There never was a Cat of such deceitfulness and suavity.
He always has an alibi, and one or two to spaer:
At whatever time the deed took place - MACAVITY WASN'T THERE!
And they say that all the Cats whose wicked deeds are widely known
(I might mention Mungojerrie, I might mention Griddlebone)
Are nothing more than agents for the Cat who all the time
Just controls their operations: the Napoleon of Crime!

The Sherlock Holmes references in the poem:
(The first three are from The Final Problem)
"You have probably never heard of Professor Moriarty?" said he.
"Ay, there's the genius and the wonder of the thing!" he cried.

"... he is extremely tall and thin, his forehead domes out in a white curve, and
his two eyes are deeply sunken in his head ... "

"...the organizer of every deviltry, the controlling brain of the underworld,
the Napoleon of Crime!"
'And when the Foreign Office find a Treaty's gone astray, '
-- a reference to The Naval Treaty.

'Or the Admiralty lose some plans and drawings by the way, '
-- a reference to The Bruce-Partington Plans.

'Engaged in doing complicated long-division sums.'
-- a reference to Moriarty's well-known mathematical talent.

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