Feline History

Cat Statute
An ancient Egyptian figurine of a cat in the Louvre museum. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

This was a prompt poem written in response to One Simple Impression’s prompt this week on pets. Instead of a haiku, though, I ended up with a triple sonnet using the rhyme scheme I accidentally invented yesterday (yes, I am going to call it a Nicholsonian sonnet – it’s a takeoff of the Spenserian sonnet form). So here it is. Enjoy.


Long ago in Nippon, I, sitting, waved
a sword at a landlord of great wealth
and caused him to approach me; thus I saved
him from a lightning strike. The man himself

thanked me and christened me Maneki Neko.
In Nordic lands, I enjoyed a fine health
of being sacred to Freyja; for lo,
in service to the love goddess herself,

I pulled her chariot, it is said. I
have carried lovingly the spirit self
of each Siamese king upon death. My
purpose: to ensure that the king himself

would be present to see the coronation
of his son ere he traveled to Heaven.

I also walked with pharaohs, head erect,
a walking image of Bastet herself,
nose held high in the hot air of Kemet.
I wore ornaments of gold, not by pelf,

but as grateful gifts from my admirers.
I ate the finest cuisine that their wealth
could buy. Now, I imagine that inquirers
wonder what happened. I’ll tell you myself.

You see, I cannot be easily tamed,
though you perceived me as just like yourselves,
domestic. I aloof, unreachable, became
wicked, the symbol of witches and devils

because you could not teach me. So then you
christened upon me dark legends anew.

First, you called me the witch’s familiar
and burned my cat kindred en masse. Your health
you naively destroyed; a peculiar
effect which you all wrought upon yourselves

was the Black plague, for we cats killed the rats
that carried it. You knew not what dark health
you called upon your cities. Then, we cats
suffered again, accused of the ill health

of your babies and children. Supposedly
we stole the breath from their lips, and a wealth
of doubt, fear, and lies were enough to cruelly
condemn us as thieves of juvenile health.

You’ve left off all that madness; now a pet
I am, but my history I’ll never forget.

Written 6/10/08
©2008 Nicole Nicholson. All Rights Reserved.

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About ravenswingpoetry

I am a 38 year old writer from Columbus, OH and the creator of Raven's Wing Poetry. I am a poet, seeker, fellow traveler, and autistic.
This entry was posted in Ideas, Nicholsonian Sonnet, People, Poems, Prompt Poems, Sonnet and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Feline History

  1. I sweated over the one sonnet I’ve ever attempted and may never try another. So I greatly admire anyone willing to write in the form, much less a triple one. Not being knowledgeable about the sonnet form (by any stretch of the imagination), I will still take a chance and say I do think this is quite good. E.g., the rhymes and the enjambed lines all work very well. Kudos!

  2. Thank you! I just started writing sonnets after being afraid to for a long time. I kind of graduated to this after writing in other forms (Chaucerian roundels, hay(na)ku, etc).

    Thanks for stopping by.


  3. SandyCarlson says:

    You breathe life into your imagery and history and give it an exactly right voice.

  4. zoya gautam says:

    ..thank u for this impressive poem..

  5. DeLi says:

    amazing figurine, it really looks powerful and historic!

  6. Thank you all for stopping by and leaving your comments/compliments…

    I haven’t had a pet in years. I used to have cats. I’m convinced that there’s a lot more going on behind their watchful eyes than we know…


  7. pieceofpie says:

    excellent.. love form poetry.. it is always a challenge and you did an awesome write… when i think of cats i think of tigers, leopards, lions… here kitty kitty.. it’s a hard line to purring little kitties…

  8. Thank you. I feel as if by writing in and exploring more form, I am improving and growing.

    Pantoums still kick my butt. One of these days, though….


  9. Pingback: “Feline History” Featured on PoetryDances.com « Raven’s Wing Poetry

  10. Once you become accostumed to writing sonnets and realise just how flexible and malleable they can be, it can become rather difficult to write in longer forms. Paradoxically in fact, today I find the sonnet to be more flexible than free verse! This could of course be a question of temperament – some poets feel comfortable explaining and developing, others prefer to be concise and squeeze gallons of meaning into a small bottle. Take a look at Rilke’s sonnet to breathing, for example, or César Vallejo’s spine-shaking sonnet which begins “I will die in a rainstorm in Paris, / on a day I already remember” (as beautifully translated by Rebecca Seiferle earlier this year in Poetry magazine). The density of meaning created by the poets’ master of form, rhythm and concision leaves the listener gasping for breath.

  11. Antoine:

    Wow! Thank you for the most in-depth comment on Feline History. You are right – sonnets oddly enough have a certain flexibility – the form almost guides my writing.

    As far as explaining vs. being concise, I go as the mood takes me. Some poems require snap shots and short form. Some require the lengthy explanation. I love how the sonnet form allows itself to be chained should the need arise.

    Thanks for visiting.


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