Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Hieronymous Spratt’s an academic cat,
Whose life is devoted to learning.
He’s often seen about Town in his dusty black Gown,
Dignified and very discerning.
Like many a scholar he wears a worn collar,
And his shirtfront’s decidedly faded.
His elbows are patched, his socks are mismatched,
His whiskers are somewhat abraded.
But there is a look of surprise never far from his eyes
For he delights in being astonished.
And with his high domed crown and his beetle-browned frown,
He looks quite unmistakably donnish.

For many years he’s frequented his peers,
Its no longer remarkable that
He is welcome, he knows, wherever he goes,
For he is the University Cat.
In the City of Sphires he finds all he desires
Of scholarship and of tradition
He’s gained seconds and firsts and the same in reverse
Everywhere he’s been granted admission.
His hunger for knowledge led him through every college,
With a passion that’s truly unique,
And his fellow students were pleased to
Be purred at or teased
In Hebrew or Sanskrit or Greek
He read maths and biology and social psychology
At Keble and Brasenose and Queen’s,
To Wadham and Worcester he brought glory and luster
Researching the functions of genes.
He dabbled in divinity at Magdalem and Trinity
But deciding nine lives would suffice,
Transferred with urbanity to study the humanities
At St. Cats, which he found very nice.
His more radical views have often made news,
And his thesis on Teaching a Mouse
Was so utterly drastic to be labelled fantastic!
And came close to dividing the House.

He retired in disgrace with much loss of face
From the Somerville lectures in Latin.
The tutor for admission was denounced for sedition,
For having allowed a male cat in!
He was banned from tutorial when he was at Oriel,
And warned he would definitely fail
For what some said is fibbing, or perhaps even cribbing,
By the unauthorized use of his tail.
But he’s the one you must greet, as he walks down Catte Street,
On his way to an evening’s debate.
For within the society, he’s the soul of propriety
Lionized by the good and the great.
Some evenings, of course, he’ll be in the white Horse,
Where he’s known to get tight (or tighter).
And he oft played Grimalken for Lewis and Tolkien
In front of the fire at the mitre.
He dines, when he is able, at Merton high table,
For the company as well as the victuals.
And he supports the dark blues in all of their does,
Whether rugby, or rowing or skittles.
He’s earned a few dollars by coaching Rhodes Scholars
Some of whom did quite well after all.
And he is the famous miaow-er at the top of Tom Tower
Bewailing the loss of Cat Hall.
David Carr-Allinson (Kellogg 1996)

One of my favorite poems to bid 2010 farewell.

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