Wednesday, March 19, 2014

HOLiDAY TiDiNGS Poems for Cats selected by Myra Cohn Livingston and illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman

Cat lovers rejoice! There are at least six days in the year that you can celebrate the love of cats. I found listings for International Cat Day on August 8th, and on February 20th. World Cat Day is celebrated in some calendars in the United States on the 29th of October, in Russia on March 1st, and in Poland on February 17th. And if that is not enough celebrating, then there is National Feral Cat Day on (mark your calendars!) October 16th. And my favorite: stand back for Hug Your Cat Day commemorated on June 4th. You have more than one cat? Then it's a big group hug! Come on! Big group hug!

And, of course, there is a great book to help us celebrate the day(s) entitled

1987, Holiday House, New York

New and old poems by Karla Kuskin, John Ciardi, and others describe cats hunting, washing, sleeping, and playing. Tomcats, kittens, "jellicle" cats, cats that turn into princesses--this book is a celebration of all kinds of cats! These poets are also represented: Eve Merriam, Valerie Worth, Eleanor Farjeon, X. J. Kennedy, T. S. Eliot, Jean Cocteau, May Swenson, and more. Some of the poems were especially commissioned for this book.
This title is out of print. 

Here is a poem that will help us celebrate CATS. It is not from the collection mentioned above, but is a favorite of mine from Samuel Barber's Hermit Songs.

The Monk and his Cat
Pangur, white Pangur,
How happy we are
Alone together, Scholar and cat.
Each has his own work to do daily;
For you it is hunting, for me, study.
Your shining eye watches the wall;
My feeble eye is fixed on a book.
You rejoice when your claws entrap a mouse;
I rejoice when my mind fathoms a problem.
Pleased with his own art
Neither hinders the other;
Thus we live ever
Without tedium and envy.
Pangur, white Pangur,
How happy we are,
Alone together, Scholar and cat.

The Monk and his Cat" is the eighth song of Samuel Barber's song cycle Hermit Songs. The cycle was composed in 1953 and published in 1954.

The poem is a translation of a text by an anonymous Irish monk who lived sometime between the 8th and 13th centuries. The English translation is by W. H. Auden.

HOLiDAY TiDiNGS is a continuing series of articles for this blog that focus on poetry and other literature written for or appropriate to  specific holidays.

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