'The Naming Of Cats' by T.S. Eliot
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Old Possum's Book of Practical CatsThe 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 Munkustrap, 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.
Editor 1 Interpretation
The Naming of Cats: A Literary Analysis
Are you a cat person or a dog person? If you are a cat person, then you must have read T.S. Eliot's poem "The Naming of Cats." This poem is an enigma, a conundrum, and a puzzle. Written in 1939, "The Naming of Cats" is a whimsical, humorous, and charming poem that celebrates the mysterious and enigmatic nature of cats.
In this literary analysis, we will explore the themes, imagery, and literary devices used in "The Naming of Cats" to understand why this poem has become a classic of feline literature.
The Theme of Naming
The central theme of "The Naming of Cats" is naming. Eliot explores the idea that cats have multiple names, and each name reveals a different aspect of their personality. The poem begins with the assertion that cats have three names: the everyday name given by the family, the more dignified name given by their feline friends, and the secret name known only to themselves. Eliot suggests that the secret name is the most important because it reflects the true nature of the cat.
The theme of naming is closely linked to the theme of identity. By giving a cat a name, we are defining its identity. However, Eliot suggests that cats have a mysterious and complex identity that cannot be defined by a single name. This idea is reinforced by the fact that cats have three names, each of which reveals a different aspect of their identity.
The Imagery of Cats
Eliot's imagery of cats is vivid and sensory. He portrays cats as elegant, graceful, and mysterious creatures that move with a feline grace. The lines, "When you notice a cat in profound meditation, The reason, I tell you, is always the same" suggests that cats are deep thinkers and are always contemplating the mysteries of the universe. The poem is full of sensory imagery that evokes the sounds, smells, and movements of cats.
Eliot also uses a lot of anthropomorphism in his portrayal of cats. He suggests that cats have a secret society, and they communicate with each other in a language that humans cannot understand. This idea of a secret society suggests that cats have a hidden world that is beyond human comprehension.
The Literary Devices Used in "The Naming of Cats"
Eliot uses several literary devices in "The Naming of Cats" to create a whimsical and playful tone. One of the most prominent literary devices is rhyme. The poem has a simple ABAB rhyme scheme that creates a sing-song quality that is reminiscent of a nursery rhyme. This rhyme scheme also gives the poem a sense of structure and order.
Eliot also uses repetition to create a sense of rhythm and pattern. The repetition of the phrase "the naming of cats" creates a sense of continuity throughout the poem. The repetition of the line "The naming of cats is a difficult matter" emphasizes the theme of naming and underscores the complexity of a cat's identity.
Eliot also uses metaphor to create a sense of whimsy and playfulness. For example, in the line "A cat's called a cat because of a cat's claws," Eliot uses the metaphor of claws to suggest that a cat's identity is tied to its physical attributes.
The Literary Significance of "The Naming of Cats"
"The Naming of Cats" is a significant poem in the canon of feline literature. It has become a classic because it captures the essence of what it means to be a cat. Eliot's exploration of the theme of naming and identity speaks to the mysterious and elusive nature of cats. The poem's vivid imagery and playful tone make it a joy to read, and its simple rhyming scheme makes it accessible to readers of all ages.
In conclusion, "The Naming of Cats" is a charming, playful, and whimsical poem that celebrates the mysterious and enigmatic nature of cats. Eliot's vivid imagery, use of literary devices, and exploration of the theme of naming and identity make this poem a classic of feline literature. If you are a cat person, then you must read this poem. If you are not a cat person, then you must read this poem to understand why cats are such fascinating creatures.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
The Naming of Cats: A Masterpiece by T.S. Eliot
T.S. Eliot is one of the most celebrated poets of the 20th century, and his works continue to inspire and captivate readers to this day. Among his many masterpieces, "The Naming of Cats" stands out as a unique and delightful piece of poetry that showcases Eliot's wit, humor, and love for felines.
At first glance, "The Naming of Cats" may seem like a simple poem about the peculiar habits of cats and their mysterious names. However, upon closer inspection, the poem reveals a deeper meaning that speaks to the essence of cats and their role in human society.
The poem begins with a playful tone, as Eliot describes the various ways in which cats are named by their owners. He notes that cats have three different names - the everyday name that humans use to call them, the more dignified name that cats use to refer to themselves, and the secret name that only the cat knows and never reveals to anyone.
Eliot's use of repetition and rhyme in the first stanza creates a musical and rhythmic effect that draws the reader in and sets the playful tone of the poem. The repetition of the phrase "the naming of cats" emphasizes the importance of this ritual and suggests that it is a universal practice among cat owners.
As the poem progresses, Eliot delves deeper into the nature of cats and their unique qualities. He notes that cats are creatures of habit and routine, and that they have a certain elegance and grace that sets them apart from other animals. He also observes that cats have a certain aloofness and independence that makes them both fascinating and enigmatic to humans.
Eliot's use of imagery and metaphor in the second stanza is particularly striking, as he compares cats to "jellicle cats" - a term that he invented himself. The term "jellicle" is derived from the phrase "dear little cats," and it suggests a sense of affection and endearment towards these creatures. The metaphor of cats as "jellicle" creatures emphasizes their unique and mysterious nature, and suggests that they are more than just ordinary pets.
In the third stanza, Eliot explores the idea that cats have a certain spiritual quality that sets them apart from other animals. He notes that cats have a deep understanding of the universe and that they are able to communicate with the divine in a way that humans cannot. He also suggests that cats have a certain mystical quality that makes them both fascinating and awe-inspiring to humans.
Eliot's use of religious imagery and allusion in this stanza is particularly striking, as he compares cats to "the angelical cats" and suggests that they have a certain divine quality that sets them apart from other creatures. The use of the word "angelical" suggests that cats are not just ordinary animals, but rather, they are creatures that are connected to a higher power.
In the final stanza, Eliot returns to the theme of naming cats and suggests that the naming of cats is an important ritual that connects humans to their feline companions. He notes that cats have a certain power over humans, and that they are able to influence their owners in ways that are both subtle and profound.
Eliot's use of repetition and rhyme in the final stanza creates a sense of closure and finality, as he emphasizes the importance of the naming of cats and suggests that it is a ritual that should be taken seriously. The repetition of the phrase "the naming of cats" suggests that this ritual is a universal practice that connects humans to their feline companions in a meaningful way.
In conclusion, "The Naming of Cats" is a masterpiece of poetry that showcases T.S. Eliot's wit, humor, and love for felines. Through his use of imagery, metaphor, and religious allusion, Eliot explores the unique qualities of cats and their role in human society. The poem is both playful and profound, and it speaks to the deep connection that humans have with their feline companions. Whether you are a cat lover or not, "The Naming of Cats" is a poem that is sure to delight and inspire readers of all ages.
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