Jubilate Agno

Original Text: 
Christopher Smart, Rejoice in the Lamb: A Song from Bedlam, ed. W. F. Stead (Rupert Hart-Davis, 1939). PR 3687 S7R4 ROBA.
2For he is the servant of the Living God duly and daily serving him.
3For at the first glance of the glory of God in the East he worships in his way.
4For this is done by wreathing his body seven times round with elegant quickness.
5For then he leaps up to catch the musk, which is the blessing of God upon his prayer.
6For he rolls upon prank to work it in.
7For having done duty and received blessing he begins to consider himself.
8For this he performs in ten degrees.
9For first he looks upon his forepaws to see if they are clean.
10For secondly he kicks up behind to clear away there.
11For thirdly he works it upon stretch with the forepaws extended.
12For fourthly he sharpens his paws by wood.
13For fifthly he washes himself.
14For sixthly he rolls upon wash.
15For seventhly he fleas himself, that he may not be interrupted upon the beat.
16For eighthly he rubs himself against a post.
17For ninthly he looks up for his instructions.
18For tenthly he goes in quest of food.
19For having consider'd God and himself he will consider his neighbour.
20For if he meets another cat he will kiss her in kindness.
21For when he takes his prey he plays with it to give it a chance.
22For one mouse in seven escapes by his dallying.
23For when his day's work is done his business more properly begins.
24For he keeps the Lord's watch in the night against the adversary.
25For he counteracts the powers of darkness by his electrical skin and glaring eyes.
26For he counteracts the Devil, who is death, by brisking about the life.
27For in his morning orisons he loves the sun and the sun loves him.
28For he is of the tribe of Tiger.
29For the Cherub Cat is a term of the Angel Tiger.
30For he has the subtlety and hissing of a serpent, which in goodness he suppresses.
31For he will not do destruction, if he is well-fed, neither will he spit without provocation.
32For he purrs in thankfulness, when God tells him he's a good Cat.
33For he is an instrument for the children to learn benevolence upon.
34For every house is incomplete without him and a blessing is lacking in the spirit.
36For every family had one cat at least in the bag.
37For the English Cats are the best in Europe.
38For he is the cleanest in the use of his forepaws of any quadruped.
39For the dexterity of his defence is an instance of the love of God to him exceedingly.
40For he is the quickest to his mark of any creature.
41For he is tenacious of his point.
42For he is a mixture of gravity and waggery.
43For he knows that God is his Saviour.
44For there is nothing sweeter than his peace when at rest.
45For there is nothing brisker than his life when in motion.
46For he is of the Lord's poor and so indeed is he called by benevolence perpetually--Poor Jeoffry! poor Jeoffry! the rat has bit thy throat.
47For I bless the name of the Lord Jesus that Jeoffry is better.
48For the divine spirit comes about his body to sustain it in complete cat.
49For his tongue is exceeding pure so that it has in purity what it wants in music.
50For he is docile and can learn certain things.
51For he can set up with gravity which is patience upon approbation.
52For he can fetch and carry, which is patience in employment.
53For he can jump over a stick which is patience upon proof positive.
54For he can spraggle upon waggle at the word of command.
55For he can jump from an eminence into his master's bosom.
56For he can catch the cork and toss it again.
57For he is hated by the hypocrite and miser.
58For the former is afraid of detection.
59For the latter refuses the charge.
60For he camels his back to bear the first notion of business.
61For he is good to think on, if a man would express himself neatly.
62For he made a great figure in Egypt for his signal services.
63For he killed the Ichneumon-rat very pernicious by land.
64For his ears are so acute that they sting again.
65For from this proceeds the passing quickness of his attention.
66For by stroking of him I have found out electricity.
67For I perceived God's light about him both wax and fire.
68For the Electrical fire is the spiritual substance, which God sends from heaven to sustain the bodies both of man and beast.
69For God has blessed him in the variety of his movements.
70For, tho he cannot fly, he is an excellent clamberer.
71For his motions upon the face of the earth are more than any other quadruped.
72For he can tread to all the measures upon the music.
73For he can swim for life.
74For he can creep.

Notes

1] First published in 1939, under the title Rejoice in the Lamb: A Song from Bedlam, edited by W. F. Stead from Smart's manuscript, which Stead had discovered in a private library. Smart wrote the poem during the long period of restraint and confinement to a madhouse (there is no evidence that he was in Bedlam) which extended from 1756 to 1763. The poem consists of two types of verses: one a series beginning with the word "Let," associating names of human beings, mainly biblical, with various natural objects, and the other a series of aphoristic verses beginning with the word "For." A later edition of the poem, by W. H. Bond (1954), indicates that Smart's plan was to arrange the "Let" and "For" passages opposite one another antiphonally, following a practice of biblical Hebrew poetry, and that the present MS. represents less than half of Smart's original plan for the poem, It is unlikely that Smart thought of publishing the poem in his lifetime. Back to Line
35] Israel. Cats were well known in Egypt, but are not mentioned in the Bible. This excerpt from Jubilate Agno is reprinted by permission of Rupert Hart-Davis. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
1939
RPO poem Editors: 
Northrop Frye
RPO Edition: 
3RP 2.229.
Rhyme: