Macavity, The Mystery Cat Strikes!

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Poems by their very nature are conduits to our souls. They have a way of getting straight to the point, there is no waste of time or effort and usually by the end of the first line – the hook goes in. Today, I was re-acquainted with such a poem. One I have not given any thought to since secondary school but on hearing its first verse I was transported back to the 1980s; a time when everyday was a bad hair day, ski-pants were de rigueur and I suffered Serious Crush Syndrome. It was a time when my classmates and I sniggered from the back of the class as a new poem was dished out. There was one week though when that sort of changed it was the week T.S. Eliot’s, Macavity: The Mystery Cat came to town.

We, the super cool brigade, thought we had finished with nursery rhymes, but then Macavity turned up and reminded us that we’re never too old for a rhyme! What Macavity did for my imagination a chemistry lesson did for a science student. The curious rhymes and energetic rhythms suffused the air with excitement and fun; when Macavity visited our classroom boredom vanished and teenage self-consciousness disappeared when asked to read aloud. The escapades of The Mystery Cat had weaved their spell and by the end of the day more than one of us recited it on the way home. This is poetry at its best: when a poet has done his job well: when a class of 30 teenage girls do not even realise they are studying – smooth!  That week, we shared in an adventure, our imaginations ran wild and we become one under T.S. Eliot’s spell; his craft with words still evoke fun and enjoyment all these years later. Today.

A good dollop of school-day nostalgia is priceless and like the poem good for the soul.  To revisit the days of old and to re-discover that there was once passion, fun and adventure – there still is and it’s only a poem away.

MACAVITY: THE MYSTERY CAT
T.S. Eliot

Macavity’s a mystery cat
He’s called the Hidden Paw
For he’s a master criminal who can defy the law
He’s the bafflement of Scotland Yard
The Flying Squad’s despair
For when they reach the scene of crime Macavity’s not there
Macavity, Macavity, there’s no one like Macavity

He’s broken every human law
He breaks the law of gravity
His powers of levitation
Would make a fakir stare
And when you reach the scene of crime, Macavity’s not there

You may seek him in the basement
You may look up in the air
But I tell you once and once again
Macavity’s not there

Macavity’s a ginger cat
He’s very tall and thin
You would know him if you saw him for his eyes are sunken in
His brow is deeply lined in thought
His head is highly domed
His coat is dusty from neglect
His whiskers are uncombed

He sways his head from side to side
With movements like a snake
And when you think he’s half asleep
He’s always wide awake

Macavity, Macavity, there’s no one like Macavity
He’s a fiend in feline shape
A monster of depravity
You may meet him in a by-street
You may see him in the square
But when a crime’s discovered then Macavity’s not there

He’s outwardly respectable
I know he cheats at cards
And his footprints are not found in any files
Of Scotland Yard’s

And when the larder’s looted
Or the jewel cases rifled
Or when the milk is missing
Or another Peke’s been stifled
Or the greenhouse glass is broken and the trellis past repair
There’s the wonder of the thing, Macavity’s not there!

Macavity, Macavity, there’s no one like Macavity
There never was a cat of such deceitfulness and suavity
He always has an alibi and one or two to spare
Whatever time the deed took place, Macavity wasn’t there!

And they say that all the cats whose wicked deeds are widely known
(I might mention Mungojerrie)
(I might mention Griddlebone)
Are nothing more than agents for the cat who all the time
Just controls the operations, the Napoleon of crime!

Macavity, Macavity, there’s no one like Macavity
He’s a fiend in feline shape
A monster of depravity
You may meet him in a by-street
You may see him in the square
But when a crime’s discovered then Macavity,Macavity,Macavity
When a crime’s discovered then Macavity’s not there!

Macavity’s not there!
We have to find old Deuteronomy

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