Monday, October 09, 2006

Poetry Pop Quiz

I am taking a Literature class at college and we're digging the poetry right now. One of my favorite poems, which I found in a college textbook twenty years ago when I was last in college before and have loved ever since, got me thinking about different types of people. Because we just finshed the series on courts which describes different types of people, I have a challenge for you. Read the poem and then tell me, which court card(s) best represent the two types of people symbolized in this poem?


Curiosity
may have killed the cat; more likely
the cat was just unlucky, or else curious
to see what death was like, having no cause
to go on licking paws, or fathering
litter on litter of kittens, predictably.
Nevertheless, to be curious
is dangerous enough. To distrust
what is always said, what seems
to ask odd questions, interfere in dreams,
leave home, smell rats, have hunches
do not endear cats to those doggy circles
where well-smelt baskets, suitable wives, good lunches
are the order of things, and where prevails
much wagging of incurious heads and tails.
Face it. Curiosity
will not cause us to die--only lack of it will.
Never to want to see
the other side of the hill
or that improbable country
where living is an idyll
(although a probable hell)
would kill us all.
Only the curious have, if they live, a tale
worth telling at all.
Dogs say cats love too much, are irresponsible,
are changeable, marry too many wives,
desert their children, chill all dinner tables
with tales of their nine lives.
Well, they are lucky. Let them be
nine-lived and contradictory,
curious enough to change, prepared to pay
the cat price, which is to die
and die again and again,
each time with no less pain.
A cat minority of one
is all that can be counted on
to tell the truth. And what cats have to tell
on each return from hell
is this: that dying is what the living do,
that dying is what the loving do,
and that dead dogs are those who do not know
that dying is what, to live, each has to do.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dog = King of Swords
Cat = Queen of Wands

Ginny said...

Oh, those are good ones. :) Things have to "make sense" to dogs and cats are willing to act on their emotions.

Daniel said...

Hello,

Ah! I'm afraid it seems like you might have gotten this poem from my home page, http://www.math.uiuc.edu/~dzaharo2/. As it turns out, the first line of the last stanza is incorrect; it should read "Dogs say cats love too much" instead of "Dogs say cays change too much." I typed it up six years ago and got it wrong, which was only just pointed out to me by a browser online!

You may want to make the correction and propagate it backwards to wherever you got the poem from! Sorry for the confusion.

Ginny said...

Thanks David! I first read this poem in an anthology back in my first year of college many years ago. Instead of digging out the old anthology, I googled it, so yeah, I will make the correction. Thanks for pointing it out. :)

Sharon said...

Dog = King of pentacles/swords
Cat = Queen/knight of wands

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