78:  The Wondrous Night

A figure in a shroud, standing in a churchyard.We are nigh unto the time when dead folks come out of their holes in the ground and creep about the houses.

Such wan and woeful things they are, we cats fear them not.  We help them in their hauntings.

I’ve writ of this before, when I was a young cat.

I’ve learnt much since.

All Hallow Even is the night when men and women are most afeared, though they’re none too bold on any night. 

Cover page of The Terrors of the Night, or, A Discourse of Apparitions, by Thomas Nashe, printed 1594.This is not to be wondered at, for they have eyes ill-made for seeing, and ears too small for hearing.  Their whiskers (if they have any) lie too close to their mouths to be of use.

Certes, by night they are great fools.  They trip and drop their silly lights, and knock into things that any cat could see.  All the while swearing and blaspheming most horrible.

They believe darkness is the kingdom of the devil.

And if the poor dog they have with them for their safety do but let a fart, they believe it a whiff of brimstone. 

I believe that what they see and hear by night are the fruits of their foul fancies, their mad and melancholick imaginings, the corruptions of their consciences.

A stained cover page of Lewes Lavater's book on Ghosts and Spirits, Walking by Night. 1596 edition.
A literate cat seems to have marked this book for future reference.

Few are cute [sharp] enough to glimpse a ghost, but on Hallow Even most hide theirselves in their houses for fear of what may befall them.

Last night we assembled at our Field, and told of all the merry tricks we know to strike terror in their timorous souls.

Night is our queendom, where none observes us but the Queen Cat of Heaven.

And on this wondrous night everywhere is ours.  We slip about soft-foot, and hear and see all.

I made a verse that I gave out:

First, let’s knock down all the trenchers!

T’will affright the kitchen wenches

whisp’ring spells within their bed,

seeking dreams of dolts they’ll wed.

Next, beneath the windows lie,

wail and waul till babes do cry!

Then across the rooves we’ll leap;

none below will dare to sleep.

On to churchyard dank and drear,

climb the yew tree, there to hear

boastful braggarts, bold with booze,

walk for wager – which they’ll lose.

Drop behind them, claw their breeches!

See them flee, and hark their screeches!

The cats liked my verse so well they called for Nero to lead all in singing it.

A black cat with narrow yellow eyes, looking thoughtful.
Nero, contemplating the joys of All Hallow Even

He has a fine voice.

Then they arrkst me if I would tell of horrid monsters when next we met.

I could scarce believe mine ears.  I feigned unwillingness.

Not long since, they scorned my poetick fictions, and wished to hear me slander great folks.

But now many young cats say they’ve never heard my famous Teasel Puss and the Man-Bull.  Or Purrsa, Purrsie and the Petrifying Witch.

It seems my tales may be in fashion again.


Toutparmoi - Note from the EditorAnd here we’ll leave Gib for a while, looking forward to Hallowe’en and a new audience at the Cats’ Field.

His humble editor is taking a break, so there’ll be no posts for a month or so.  I’ll try to keep up with your blogs, but may not be able to leave comments, or reply to comments on this one.

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33 thoughts on “78:  The Wondrous Night

    • toutparmoi October 30, 2016 / 1:25 am

      Thanks – I’m looking forward to it. It’s a while since I last travelled.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Charlotte Latvala October 30, 2016 / 3:57 am

    Lovely work, GIb. Have a good break, humble editor.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Monica Graff October 30, 2016 / 5:37 am

    I love the rhyme. Perfect for Halloween. I’ll have to teach it to our resident puss. Happy travels!

    Liked by 5 people

    • toutparmoi October 30, 2016 / 3:39 pm

      A quick flit to London, sandwiched between some time out here. Doubtless it will be cold, but not much worse than spring has been on most days!

      Liked by 3 people

      • Timi Townsend October 31, 2016 / 3:41 pm

        My best friend forever, whose daughter lives with her husband and young son in Wellington, recently returned from several weeks there with them. She reported that the weather had been terrible! She was glad to get back to L.A., even in the autumn…

        Liked by 2 people

    • toutparmoi October 30, 2016 / 10:43 pm

      I’m disappointed. I was sure you’d be out there cavorting on the rooftops and in cemeteries. Alas, we’re none of us as young as we used to be.

      Halloween is relatively new here in NZ. The big event used to be Guy Fawkes (your Bonfire Night) when we made Guys that we wheeled around the neighbourhood in trolleys or pushchairs early in the morning of 5 November. “Guy, guy, guy, penny for the guy…” etc. That’s been overtaken by Halloween. Partly because of the influence of American movies, and partly because of all the safety regulations around fireworks nowadays. Our Guys were meant to be burnt on bonfires that evening, but having put so much effort into making them we took a while to part with them. It’s a tradition I miss. However, and despite the fact the season’s mostly wrong, this is a fun time. Diwali, followed by Halloween, followed by fireworks for Guy Fawkes night. (The only man, as a Brummie flatmate of mine used to say, who ever went to Parliament to do anything.)

      Liked by 4 people

      • southamptonoldlady October 31, 2016 / 5:47 am

        Ha Ha – well you’ll definitely see a few fireworks that’s for sure – Luckily the weather is mild for this time of year but we often get a cold spell in early November. Have a really great time.

        Liked by 2 people

    • toutparmoi October 30, 2016 / 11:08 pm

      For which I give thee thanks! With luck the worst I’ll have to face on said voyage will be airport delays, not unfavourable winds, boisterous seas, shipwracks, or pirates.

      Liked by 2 people

        • toutparmoi October 30, 2016 / 11:23 pm

          Good coz, fear thee not. I am a roaring girl of yore who knows well what rogues may be about.

          Liked by 2 people

          • Christine Valentor October 30, 2016 / 11:30 pm

            I doubt it not! Then much luck to thee in travels, and upon return I look with fond eagerness to further newes from Gib!

            Liked by 2 people

  3. Robyn Haynes October 30, 2016 / 7:16 pm

    Gib’s poem is a delight! I’m looking forward to All Hallows Eve when all the neighbourhood kids dress up and terrorise the community. I’ll miss your posts Denise. Hope it’s a holiday you’re having.

    Liked by 4 people

    • toutparmoi October 30, 2016 / 11:04 pm

      Yes, I’m having a holiday. Interesting how Halloween has taken on in NZ. (When I was a youngster the main celebration was Guy Fawkes.) Many here really resent it: USA cultural imperialism blah-di-blah. But October 31 existed long before the USA did, and while I’m not into the commercialisation of traditional festivals, I think that anything that offers people (and cats) a chance to have fun is OK.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Robyn Haynes October 31, 2016 / 4:30 am

        Yes I remember Guy Fawkes with fondness. We use to call it cracker night and had no idea of its origins. Similarly, Halloween has shape shifted and morphed into something quite different to my grand kids generation and is expressed differently with little of its original meaning for them. Cultural diffusion is simply a fact of life , especially in a globalised world like ours. My granddaughter says some words with an American accent. Too much American content in her screen time?

        Liked by 4 people

  4. dave ply October 31, 2016 / 9:16 am

    I suspect the cats of the field taught Gib’s poem to their descendants, and so on. Even the cats around here seem to know it even when it isn’t All Hollows’ Eve, as did mine before they became real ghosts.

    Enjoy your break.

    Liked by 3 people

    • toutparmoi October 31, 2016 / 12:08 pm

      I suspect cats would like every night to be Halloween. They’re natural born trick or treaters.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Timi Townsend October 31, 2016 / 3:49 pm

    Oh! I will most heartily miss you, Denise, as well as the Estimable Gib. “Night is our queendom, where none observes us but the Queen Cat of Heaven.” Who else, even in prose, can express The Thing so Well?

    Tomorrow night here in Central Ohio, U.S.A., is Halloween and Trick or Treat, when children (and sometimes grown-ups not even with kids in tow, dress up and beg door-to-door for candy.

    Then the day after is All Soul’s Day, also celebrated here, especially in our Latino neighborhoods, as El Dia del Muerte, the Day of the Dead, with visits to the graves of relatives to serenade them, have picnics in the cemeteries and generally make merry with sugar-spun skulls and tiny skeleton dolls dressed in every imaginable way. Truly a holiday to savor.

    Have a wonderful Time on Your Travels! We, Gib’s Audience, will be eagerly awaiting Your Return! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Felicity Logan December 3, 2016 / 7:24 am

    “Leave my mark?” This keyboard doesn’t do prints or smells, sorry. I tried rubbing my cheek against it but all I got was n0hnhnhhhjmkvcvgfrt6gbbd — no eloquence possible that way, so I give up. Will curl up in the sun instead, and there leave a hunk of fur for my human to tut-tut over. But I do want to say thanks for the neat poem. It said what needed to be said.

    Liked by 3 people

    • toutparmoi December 7, 2016 / 7:59 am

      Thanks, Felicity. And congratulations on your recent publication.

      Like

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