114:  Mistress of the Revels

A fluffy black, white and ginger cat against the night sky.
Tricks – Mistress of the Revels.

What a motley clowder showed theirselves on our roof at the next fat moon!

I counted nine, a fortunate number for cats. 

My nose told me others were mitching [lurking] in the shadows.

I guessed they were Linkin’s law-cat friends, unwilling to be seen too soon lest our Spring Revel should prove fool, and they be thought more fool for attending.

Picker and Stealer were there.  Onix was much troubled by that.

I told him he could not be blamed. ’Twas I who arrkst him to tell of a Revel for our private friends.  Small wonder that they should think they were invited.

Another who came was that scarred and scabbed villain who chased Onix and me from the wall when I first saw where Essex House lay.

Onix swore he’d not told him of our Revel.  Then confessed that when last he’d walked along the wall by Essex House the Scabface wretch came at him.

“So I lingered long enough to tell him,” sayt Onix, “that we was having a Revel, and he was not invited.”

What an innocent.  Scabface held the westward wall, and Onix thought we should not friend him?

If any knew a way into Essex House, it were Scabface.  I twitched my fine plume of a tail as I passed him by, and he took my meaning.

An engraving of Essex House viewed from the Thames, showing the river wall and gate to the landing stairs.
A cat might make its way from London to Westminster along the river wall.

There also came a stranger [foreign] cat I’d not seen before.  He sayt all called him Kettie, and assured me of his love for Onix.  This was because he came from a citie where all were as fragrant as Onix was.

“Save for the rude and barbarous strangers that come for trade or ambassage,” sayt Kettie.  “Though some learn the custom of the baths and go every day.”

“What citie is this?” I arrkst.

“The greatest in all the world,” sayt he.  “Constantinople.”

“What?” I cried.  “I oft heard an ancient sea-cat, Nero by name, tell of how he walked in triumph through Constantinople.  He sayt the Turks are a nation most civil to cats.”

“Your sea friend spake true,” sayt Kettie.  And he began to tell me what it were to be a Turkey cat.

I begged him hold, for it was time for me to bid all welcome.  But I sayt I would take it kindly if he were to give out his tale at our Revel.

Then I offered my greeting.  Not words of mine own, but some I remembered – as best I could – from my uncle Gib.

All the world’s a roof, set ’twixt night and day,
Where we cats come and go, willy-nilly.
True, each has their on-way and their off-way,
But we all, in our time, tread the same paths,
Which I shall number nine.

Our first path’s in the dark, as we lie snug
Within our mothers’ bellies, untried as yet
By this wicked world.

Then we thrust forth.  Blind breathless wrigglers all,
Sucking at the air, mewling for the milk,
That makes true cats of us.

We’re tender kitlings soon, with visages
More starry than the Queen of Heaven’s eyes,
All hope and whiskers.

Then comes the capering kit most curious,
Fire-hot to find a place to call our own,
With Fortune’s favour.

A cat carrying a rat in its mouth - a tiny detail from Hieronymous Bosch painting of The Garden of Earthly Delights.Next the queen, stone-cat, or gentle gib,
Keeping safe our kitchens, shops, and granaries
From vile predations.

Then we’re cats full-grown, with eyes like lanthorns
Whose beams shine forth our wisdom and our worth.
Disdain us if you dare!

Now comes the cat senior, full of warnings
And lessons on behaviour all should heed,
Or take their punishment.

So to the aged cat, of fading fur,
Sharp bones, long claws, and rheumy eyes, who holds
The best seat by the hearth.

Comes the last path, when our bodies return
To the mother of all, which is the earth,
While our souls fly forth rejoycing
That our labours here are ended.
And our revels are begun!

“Friends, I bid you welcome, and call first upon a stranger to tell of a strange land.”

Kettie came forward to great applauds, and began his tale.

Toutparmoi - Note from the EditorAnybody who’s seen Kedi, that delightful documentary about Istanbul and its cats, may already have an inkling of what it was to be a cat in Constantinople.

Even so, I’m looking forward to transcribing Kettie’s tale, as recorded by Tricks, for a first-hand (or paw) 16th century perspective.


27 thoughts on “114:  Mistress of the Revels

    • toutparmoi November 23, 2017 / 12:04 pm

      Thanks! Tricks’ uncle Gib was a great poet and playwright. Alas, he lies in an unmarked grave, unlike the fellow who stole his work.


  1. April Munday November 23, 2017 / 11:17 am

    Gib was certainly a fine poet. We won’t see his like again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi November 23, 2017 / 11:59 am

      We won’t! But Tricks may have found her niche as a manager and talent scout.

      Unless, of course, her rebelsome nature and her obsession with getting into Essex House bring about her downfall.

      Liked by 2 people

    • April Munday November 23, 2017 / 12:08 pm

      I thought she might do rather well as the MC of a music hall, except that she’s a few centuries too early.

      Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi November 23, 2017 / 2:22 pm

      Your right. That fine plumed tail she speaks of sounds made for the music hall.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. leggypeggy November 23, 2017 / 12:39 pm

    Lovely post. We’re having our own revel here today—Thanksgiving.

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi November 23, 2017 / 2:25 pm

      So it is! We’re having a hot spring day here in Wellington (NZ) so I immediately felt like a grease spot at the thought of roast turkey.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Rachel McAlpine November 23, 2017 / 1:29 pm

    O splendid scrivener Gib! Toutparmoi, my sincere thanks for rescuing this masterpiece for the world. Surely now all Shakespeare scholars will bow down and acknowledge Gib as author or co-author of certain major works. This is the final proof that Shakespeare was at best given false credit for much of the celebrated oeuvre, or at worst was a wicked plagiarist, taking credit for the brilliant works of an Elizabethan cat. There. Got that off my chest.

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi November 23, 2017 / 4:09 pm

      Have you seen Kedi, Roshen? Looking at the Kedi Film website I see that the documentary has been released in a lot of countries, but not India.

      I wondered if that was because India’s own film industry is so big proportionately fewer international films are released there, or if the distributors thought it wouldn’t be of much interest. The film is available on DVD, however.

      Liked by 1 person

    • roshendalal December 7, 2017 / 8:25 pm

      just saw this–i haven’t seen Kedi, will try to get it online. India releases most of the Hollywood films here–perhaps not too many documentaries, particularly one on cats, a rather unpopular animal here.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Christine Valentor November 23, 2017 / 5:11 pm

    “All the world’s a roof” hehehe 🙂 I see that ‘other playwright’ twisted Gib’s words.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Mick Canning November 23, 2017 / 10:03 pm

    What a loss Gib was. But, I’m certainly looking forward to Kettie’s tale, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. dornahainds November 24, 2017 / 6:04 am

    What a Fine Celebration! 😎😎😎😎😎 Quien of Cats would approve, I think especially of the Fantabulous Poem! 🥀🥀🥀🥀🥀

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi November 24, 2017 / 7:35 am

      We’re most fortunate that Tricks remembered it.


  7. Val November 28, 2017 / 6:10 am

    Certainly beats ‘the cat sat on the mat’. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Dave Ply November 30, 2017 / 6:39 pm

    Looks like this will be quite the entertaining revel. And “clowder” – a new word for me. I’ll have to remember it, especially as I sometimes find myself hanging out with one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi December 1, 2017 / 8:16 am

      “Clowder” often pops up in pub quizzes as the collective noun for a group of cats, but I think that’s a later invention. The word wasn’t cat-specific originally. As an alternative you could try “clodder”. Sounds good for hikers with muddy boots.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. mitchteemley December 3, 2017 / 4:32 am

    We have the DVD of “Kedi” and plan to watch it tonight.


    • toutparmoi December 3, 2017 / 10:25 am

      Good choice. It’s a lovely relaxing watch.


  10. trashonthemonocacy March 7, 2018 / 8:16 am

    What a wonderful poem! I am having a wonderful time catching up with your work after being away from the blogging world for some time. Truly, your work is a pleasure!

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi March 7, 2018 / 8:40 am

      Thanks! It’s good to see you back 🙂


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