March 20th, 2006

lindisfarne gospels

Happy St. Cuthbert's Day!

Today we remember the leadership and example of Cuthbert, hermit and bishop of Lindisfarne (d. 687).

A few of us will be gathering out at Wilderstead this evening to fry up some fish, drink some ale, and maybe play a little cards in honor of St. Cuthbert. Hope we don't get frostbite doing it.
by himself

A trio of poems for rcnonperson

THE LITTLE CAT ANGEL

The ghost of a little white kitten
Crying mournfully, early and late,
Distracted St. Peter, the watchman,
As he guarded the heavenly gate.
"Say, what do you mean," said his saintship,
"Coming here and behaving like that?"
"I want to see Nellie, my missus,"
Sobbed the wee little ghost of a cat.
"I know she's not happy without me,
Won't you open and let me go in?"
"Begone," gasped the horrified watchman,
"Why the very idea is a sin;
I open the gate to good angels,
Not to stray little beggars like you."
"All right," mewed the little white kitten,
"Though a cat I'm a good angel, too."
Amazed at so bold an assertion,
But aware that he must make no mistake,
In silence, St. Peter long pondered,
For his name and repute were at stake,
Then placing the cat in his bosom
With a "Whist now, and say all your prayers,"
He opened the heavenly portals
And ascended the bright golden stairs.
A little girl angel came flying,
"That's my kitty, St. Peter," she cried.
And, seeing the joy of their meeting,
Peter let the cat angel abide.

This tale is the tale of a kitten
Dwelling now with the blessed above.
It vanquished grim Death and High Heaven
For the name of the kitten was Love.

-- Leontine Stanfield


IN MEMORIAM -- LEO: A YELLOW CAT

If to your twilight land of dream --
Persephone, Persephone,
Drifting with all your shadow host --
Dim sunlight comes, with sudden gleam
And you lift veil-ed eyes to see
Slip past a little golden ghost,
That wakes a sense of springing flowers,
Of nesting birds, and lambs newborn,
Of spring astir in quickening hours,
And young blades of Demeter's corn;
For joy of that sweet glimpse of sun,
O Goddess of unnumbered dead,
Give one soft touch -- if only one --
To that uplifted, pleading head!
Whisper some kindly word, to bless
A wistful soul who understands
That life is but one long caress
Of gentle words and gentle hands.

-- Margaret Sherwood


LEO TO HIS MISTRESS
(Answer)


Dear Mistress, do not grieve for me
Even in such sweet poetry.
Alas! It is too late for that,
No mistress can recall her cat.
Eurydice remained a shade
Despite the music Orpheus played;
And pleasures here outlast, I guess,
Your earthly transitoriness.

You serious denizens of Earth
Know nothing of Elysian mirth;
With other shades I play or doze
And wash, and stretch, or rub my nose.
I hunt for mice, or take a nap
Safe in Iphigenia's lap.
At times I bite Achilles' heel
To learn if shadow heroes squeal,
and should he turn to do me hurt,
I hide beneath Cassandra's skirt.

But should he smile, no creature bolder,
I lightly bounce upon his shoulder,
Then leap to fair Electra's knee
Or scamper with Antigone.
I chase the rolling wooden ball
Penelope has just let fall,
And crouch when Meleager's cheer
Awakes the shades of trembling deer.
I grin when Stygian boys, beguiled,
Stare after Helen, Ruin's child;
Or should these placid pastimes fail
I play with Cerberus's tail.
At last I purr and spit and spatter
When kind Demeter fills my platter.

And yet, in spite of all of this,
I sometimes yearn for earthly bliss,
To hear you calling "Leo!" when
The glorious sun awakens men;
Or hear your "Good night, Pussy" sound
When starlight falls on mortal ground;
Then, in my struggles to get free,
I almost scratch Persephone.

-- Henry Dwight Sedgwick