Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Lily at the Flap

(apologies to Thomas Babington Macaulay)

I
Fluffy Pussnums of Yale Street
By the Nine Lives she swore
That the great house of Pussnum
Should suffer wrong no more.
By the Nine Lives she swore it,
And lashed her furry tail,
And boldly through the lawns strode forth,
East and west and south and north,
To cross over North Yale.

XIII
In the little house on North Amherst
drowsed in the fading light:
Daddy and Peeper and Mommy
settling in for the night.
Shut up the doors and the windows,
dozed, read or watched TV
Leaving on guard just two kitties;
black Fat Nitty and lithe Lily.

XXVI
And the Nitty’s brow was sad,
And the Nitty’s tail was low,
And darkly looked she at the cat flap,
And darkly at the foe.
'What if a cat be upon us
For the cat flap looks mighty risky;
And if she once may win the flap,
Shall she have our Little Friskies?’

XXVII
Then out spake brave old Lily,
The Captain of the gate:
'To every cat upon this earth
Death cometh soon or late.
And how can cat die better
Than facing fearful odds,
For the back door of her family,
And the Friskies of her Gods?’

XXXI
‘Lily,’ purred the Fat Nitty,
‘As thou sayest, so let it be.’
And straight before the shiv’ring Flap
Forth went the dauntless She.
For kitties in cats’ quarrel
Spared neither land nor gold,
Nor son nor wife, nor limb nor life,
In the brave days of old.

XXXII
Then none was for a party;
Then all were for the state;
Then the rich cat helped the poor,
And the poor cat loved the great:
Then tuna was fairly portioned;
Then catnip was fairly sold:
The kitties were like sisters
In the brave days of old.

XXXV
Meanwhile Fluffy Pussnums,
Right glorious to behold,
Come flashing back the noonday light,
Fur and claws, like surges bright
Of a broad sea of gold.
Four hundred meows resounded
A peal of warlike glee,
As that great cat, with measured tread,
And tail held high, and whiskers spread,
Rolled slowly towards the cat flap’s head,
Where stood the bold Lily.

XLII
And hark! the cry is hissing:
And lo! the roses divide;
And the great Pussum of Yale Street
Comes with her stately stride.
Upon her ample shoulders
Clangs loud the four-fold shield,
And in her paw she shakes the claw
Which none but she can wield.

XLIII
She smiled on that bold Lily
A smile serene and high;
She eyed the sleeping family,
And scorn was in her eye.
Quoth she, ‘The she-cat’s litter
Stand savagely at bay:
But will they dare to swat me,
If Pussnums clears the way?’

XLIV
Then, whirling up her clawed paws
With both forelegs to the heights
She rushed against bold Lily,
And smote with all her might,
With flashing paws then Lily
Right deftly turned the blows.
The kitties battled, slashing high
through the cat-flap, each one nigh
to fainting with a yowling cry
To see the red blood flow.

XLV
Lily reeled, and on Fat Nitty
She leaned one breathing-space;
Then, like a wild cat mad with wounds
Sprang right at Pussnums’s face.
Through teeth, and fur, and whiskers
So fierce a thrust she sped,
She cleaved the very whiskers out
And cowering, Fluff Pussnum fled.

LXV
Her family gave her the cat food,
That was of household right,
As much as two hungry kitties
Could eat from morn till night;
And they made a molten image,
And set it up on high,
And there it stands unto this day
To witness if I lie.

LXX
When the Chief sets mending his trousers,
And Peeper plays in the room;
When Mojo’s shuttle merrily
Goes flashing through the loom;
With weeping and with laughter
Still is the story told,
How well bold Lily kept the flap
In the brave days of old.

(Sunday night after the Peeper went to bed, Mojo and I were drowsing on the couch when we heard a fierce screeching in the back hallway. We thought that our cats were fighting - Nitty and Lily don't always play well together. But this wasn't just regular Lily-Nitty scrapping: this was full-out cat screaming. I raced onto the back hallway and saw 1) Nitty lounging on the starway, and 2) Lily swatting fiercely at "something" outside the cat door. By the time I got the people door open it was gone, but we assume that Lily had defended her door against a stranger cat. What a ferocious kitty! As Macaulay recounts - she got some extra food for her heroism.

6 comments:

walternatives said...

Kudos to gatekeeper Lily! I'm so curious (or is it gullible) - what is the molten image? Or was that just part of the original verse?

Millicent said...

Fekkin' great stuff Chief. I'll bring the mead the next time I'm over and maybe Mojo can take some time away from her loom (and you from your trousers...to be sure).

basilbeast said...

I have the perfect picture for this piece.

1) I hope I can find it again, and

2) figure out a way to get it to you.

BB

basilbeast said...

OK, let's try this.

http://www.mygoodfriends.com/photos/d133f2635914cca_med.jpeg

basilbeast said...

OK #2

http://www.mygoodfriends.com/
photos/d133f2635914
cca_med.jpeg

FDChief said...

Basil: great photo - thanks!