Ode on the Death of a Favourite Cat, Drowned in a Tub of Gold Fishes
1 'Twas on a lofty vase's side,
2 Where China's gayest art had dyed
3 The azure flowers, that blow;
4 Demurest of the tabby kind,
5 The pensive Selima reclined,
6 Gazed on the lake below.
7 Her conscious tail her joy declared;
8 The fair round face, the snowy beard,
9 The velvet of her paws,
10 Her coat, that with the tortoise vies,
11 Her ears of jet, and emerald eyes,
12 She saw; and purred applause.
13 Still had she gazed; but 'midst the tide
14 Two angel forms were seen to glide,
15 The genii of the stream:
16 Their scaly armour's Tyrian hue
17 Through richest purple to the view
18 Betrayed a golden gleam.
19 The hapless nymph with wonder saw:
20 A whisker first and then a claw,
21 With many an ardent wish,
22 She stretched in vain to reach the prize.
23 What female heart can gold despise?
24 What cat's averse to fish?
25 Presumptuous maid! with looks intent
26 Again she stretched, again she bent,
27 Nor knew the gulf between.
28 (Malignant Fate sat by, and smiled)
29 The slippery verge her feet beguiled,
30 She tumbled headlong in.
31 Eight times emerging from the flood
32 She mewed to every watery god,
33 Some speedy aid to send.
34 No dolphin came, no Nereid stirred:
35 Nor cruel Tom, nor Susan heard.
36 A favourite has no friend!
37 From hence, ye beauties, undeceived,
38 Know, one false step is ne'er retrieved,
39 And be with caution bold.
40 Not all that tempts your wandering eyes
41 And heedless hearts, is lawful prize;
42 Nor all that glisters gold.
About this text
Author: Thomas Gray
Themes: advice; moral precepts; animals; death
Genres: ballad metre; ode; Song to David-stanza; fable; mock heroic
Text view / Document view
Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771. Thomas Gray: English poems. Web. Oxford: Thomas Gray Archive, 2002. http://www.thomasgray.org/texts/poems.shtml
Typography, spelling, capitalization, and punctuation have been cautiously modernized. The source of the text is given and all significant editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. This ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 4.0.0.
Other versions of this work
Other works by Thomas Gray
- Agrippina, a Tragedy ()
- The Alliance of Education and Government. A Fragment ()
- The Candidate ()
- [Caradoc] ()
- The Characters of the Christ-Cross Row, By a Critic, To Mrs — ()
- [Conan] ()
- [Couplet about Birds] ()
- The Death of Hoel From Aneurin, Monarch of the Bards, extracted from the Gododin ()
- THE DESCENT OF ODIN: AN ODE. (); The Descent of Odin. An Ode (From the Norse-Tongue,) in Bartholinus, de causis contemnendae mortis; Hafniae, 1689, Quarto. Upreis Odinn allda gautr, &c. ()
- An ELEGY WRITTEN IN A COUNTRY CHURCH YARD. (); Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard ()
- [Epitaph on a Child] ()
- [Epitaph on Mrs Clerke] ()
- [Epitaph on Mrs Mason] ()
- [Epitaph on Sir William Williams] ()
- THE FATAL SISTERS: AN ODE. (); The Fatal Sisters. An Ode (From the Norse-Tongue,) in the ORCADES of Thormodus Torfaeus; Hafniae, 1697, Folio: and also in Bartholinus. Vitt er orpit fyrir valfalli, &c. ()
- HYMN to ADVERSITY. (); Ode to Adversity ()
- [Hymn to Ignorance. A Fragment] ()
- Imitated from Propertius, Lib: 3: Eleg: 5: ()
- [Imitated] From Propertius. Lib: 2: Eleg: 1. ()
- [Impromptus] ()
- [Invitation to Mason] ()
- [Lines on Dr Robert Smith] ()
- Lines on the Accession of George III ()
- [Lines Spoken by the Ghost of John Dennis at the Devil Tavern] ()
- [Lines Written at Burnham] ()
- A Long Story ()
- ODE AT THE INSTALLATION OF HIS GRACE AUGUSTUS HENRY FITZROY, DUKE OF GRAFTON, CHANCELLOR OF THE UNIVERSITY. JULY 1, MDCCLXIX. (); Ode for Music ()
- An ODE On a distant Prospect of ETON COLLEGE. (); Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College ()
- [Ode on the Pleasure Arising from Vicissitude] ()
- ODE. (); Ode on the Spring ()
- ODE. (); The Progress of Poesy. A Pindaric Ode ()
- ODE. (); The Bard. A Pindaric Ode ()
- On L[or]d H[olland']s Seat near M[argat]e, K[en]t ()
- [Parody on an Epitaph] ()
- Satire on the Heads of Houses; or, Never a Barrel the Better Herring ()
- [Sketch of his Own Character] ()
- Song I ()
- Song II ()
- Sonnet [on the Death of Mr Richard West] ()
- Stanzas to Mr Bentley ()
- [Tophet] Inscription on a Portrait ()
- [Translation from Dante, Inferno Canto xxxiii 1-78] ()
- [Translation from Statius, Thebaid VI 646-88, 704-24] ()
- [Translation from Statius, Thebaid IX 319-26] ()
- [Translation] From Tasso [Gerusalemme Liberata] Canto 14, Stanza 32-9 ()
- THE TRIUMPHS OF OWEN: A FRAGMENT. (); The Triumphs of Owen. A Fragment from Mr. Evans's Specimens of the Welch Poetry; London, 1764, Quarto. ()
- [Verse Fragments] ()
- William Shakespeare to Mrs Anne, Regular Servant to the Revd Mr Precentor of York ()