old possums book of practical cats

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TS Eliot’s ‘The Naming of Cats’: A Poem for Cat Lovers of All Stripes

The basis for the musical Cats, Eliot’s Practical Cats has previously sported a cover illustration by Old Possum (Ezra Pound’s nickname for Eliot) himself, and other editions have featured drawings by Nicolas Bentley, Edward Gorey, and Alex Scheffler. Here, illustrator Nathan Gelgud takes a crack at joining their illustrious company with an illustrated version of his favorite poem of the book, “The Naming of Cats,” in which Eliot gets to the bottom of what exactly cats are always thinking about when they seem so calm and contemplative.

The Naming of Dwarves

Another dwarf-themed Cats adaptation. Hrera, Jeri, Bomfur, Mizim, Haban, Gimizh, Barur Stonebelly and the Crystaltongue belong to determamfidd.

(This wasn’t meant to be a series, but I fell over and wrote this.)

The Naming of Dwarves is a difficult matter,
It isn’t just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I’m as mad as a wizard
When I tell you, a dwarf may have three different names.

First of all, there’s the name that the family use daily,
Such as Thorin, or Dwalin, or Borin or Dáin,
Such as Hrera or Jeri, Bomfur or Dís–
All of them sensible everyday names.

There are fancier names if you think they sound sweeter,
Some for the siring dwarves, some for the dams:
Such as Mizim, or Haban, Gimli, Gimizh–
But all of them sensible everyday names.

But I tell you, a dwarf needs a name that’s particular,
A name that’s peculiar, and more dignified,
Else how can they keep up their beard and their braidings,
Or spread out their inkings, or cherish their pride?

Of names of this kind, I can give you a quorum,
Such as Ironfoot, Stonehelm, or Oakenshield,
Such as Barur Stonebelly, or else Crystaltongue–
Names that never belong to more than one dwarf.

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 mortal research can discover–
But the dwarf themself knows, and will seldom confess.

When you notice a dwarf in profound meditation,
The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
Their mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of their name.

Last picture in 2016, happy new year everybody!

I used same drawings in my cats the musical family tree.

The Naming of Cats

The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter,
    It isn’t just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first that I’m made 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 a Munkustrap, Quaxo, or Coricopat,
Such as Bombalurina, or else Jellylorum -
    Name 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
        Effanineffable
Deep and inscrutable singular Name.