T. S. Eliot: The naming of Cats

I had guests on Tuesday…a friend named Matteo (which means the gift of god, which one isn’t quite clear,  I think he’s Loki’s gift) who is an Ubuntu enthusiast, his wife and another friend.  Preparing dinner I put “Cats” on the computer and enjoyed for the umpteenth bazillioneth time that fantastic ballet and musical.

From Bookmarked! Click the pic to go to the site!

From Bookmarked! Click the pic to go to the site!

T. S. Eliot wrote a lovely book of poetry entitled: Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. And of course “Cats” is the stage version of this great poem.  This comes from his book, and below you can hear him reading it.

Courtesy of Wikipedia

Courtesy of Wikipedia

The Naming of Cats

by T. S. Eliot

The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter,
It isn’t just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I’m as mad as a hatter
When I tell you, a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES.
First of all, there’s the name that the family use daily,
Such as Peter, Augustus, Alonzo, or James,
Such as Victor or Jonathan, George or Bill Bailey –
All of them sensible everyday names.
There are fancier names if you think they sound sweeter,
Some for the gentlemen, some for the dames –
Such as Plato, Admetus, Electra, Demeter –
But all of them sensible everyday names.
But I tell you, a cat needs a name that’s particular,
A name that’s peculiar, and more dignified,
Else how can he keep up his tail perpendicular,
Or spread out his whiskers, or cherish his pride –
Of names of this kind, I can give you a quorum,
Such as Munkstrap, Quaxo, or Coricopat,
Such as Bombalurina, or else Jellylorum-
Names that never belong to more than one cat.
But above and beyond there’s still one name left over,
And that is the name that you never will guess;
The name that no human research can discover –
But THE CAT HIMSELF KNOWS, and will never confess.
When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:
His ineffable effable
Deep and inscrutable singular Name.

(I had to giggle at all the “mistakes” WordPress wants me to correct in this poem!)

Let’s not forget this lovely song and scene:

Have a great day!


8 thoughts on “T. S. Eliot: The naming of Cats

  1. Wonderful post, in so many ways!
    The great cat of my life was King Oliver, The Cat Who Thought He Was A Dog. His other name was Burr, from all the little ones who couldn’t manage to say, Oliver. He died in my arms, of cancer, a few months after I lost Paul.
    Thanks for giving us all these goodies in one post:>)


    • You’re very welcome, I do so love this particular piece and I’m happy you enjoyed! Eliot was a genius…
      So sorry for your husband and King Oliver…we lost our Maao to an immunological desease in 2009 at this time of year, I still miss him very much.


  2. What a great post! We’ve had/have several cats over the years and most of them had multiple names: their “everyday name” and then at least one that reflected their personality. In the case of Joshua (RIP), his other name for a time was “Fat Bastard” because he was overweight and he was … well … a bit of a bastard. Mikey (RIP) had the most other names: Mikey the Million Dollar Kitty (for much his vet bills cost us); Medically Needy Mikey (for all his health problems); Mikey the Toothless Wonder (because he had to have all his teeth removed); and, my favorite, Snugglebunny because he loved to sleep with me, snuggled against my shoulder. I loved it too and miss him very much.


in shadows light - walking under weeping pines - spring rain

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.