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Short poem

Alfred Perceval Graves (1846-1931)

The Kilkenny Cats

              1    In the dacent ould days
              2    Before stockings or stays
              3Were invented, or breeches, top-boots and top-hats,
              4    You'd search the whole sphere
              5    From Cape Horn to Cape Clear
              6And never come near to the likes of our Cats
              7    Och, tunder! och, tunder!
              8    You'd wink wid the wonder
              9To see them keep under the mice and the rats;
            10    And go wild for half shares
            11    In the phisants and hares
            12They pull'd up the backstairs to provision our Pats
            13Och! the Cats of Kilkenny, Kilkenny's wild Cats!

            14    But the shame and the sin
            15    Of the Game Laws came in,
            16Wid the gun and the gin of the landlord canats;
            17    And the whole box and dice
            18    Of the rats and the mice
            19Made off in a trice from our famishing Cats.
            20    What did the bastes do?
            21    What would I or you?
            22Is it lie down and mew till we starved on our mats?
            23    Not at all, faix! but fall
            24    Small and great, great and small,
            25Wid one grand caterwaul on each other's cravats.
            26Och! the Cats of Kilkenny, Kilkenny's wild Cats!

            27    And that mortial night long
            28    We should hark, right or wrong,
            29To the feast and the song of them cannibal Cats,
            30    Gladiath'rin away
            31    Till the dawn of the day
            32In fifty-three sharps, semiquavers and flats;
            33    And when we went round
            34    Wid the milk-carts we found
            35Scattered over the ground, like a sprinkle of sprats –
            36    (All the rest, bit and sup,
            37    Of themselves they'd ate up)
            38Only just the tip-ends of the tails of the Cats,
            39Of the Cats of Kilkenny, Kilkenny's quare Cats!


1] dacent: decent.

12] Pats: nickname for Irishmen.

20] bastes: beasts.

23] faix: fegs! (exclamation).

25] cravats: neck-ties.

30] Gladiath'rin: making out like gladiators.

35] sprats: little sea-fish.

39] quare: queer.

Online text copyright © 2004, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: The Irish Poems of Alfred Perceval Graves 2nd edn. (1908): 57-58. del G735 A155 1918 v. 2 Fisher Rare Book Library
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: 2004
Recent editing: 1:2004/5/19

Rhyme: aabccbddbeebb

Other poems by Alfred Perceval Graves