Milk for the Cat
Strange Meetings: Poems By Harold Monro (Wiltshire: Laurel Books, 2003): 46-47.
1When the tea is brought at five o'clock,
2And all the neat curtains are drawn with care,
3The little black cat with bright green eyes
4Is suddenly purring there.
5At first she pretends, having nothing to do,
6She has come in merely to blink by the grate,
7But, though tea may be late or the milk may be sour,
8She is never late.
9And presently her agate eyes
10Take a soft large milky haze,
11And her independent casual glance
12Becomes a stiff hard gaze.
13Then she stamps her claws or lifts her ears
14Or twists her tail and begins to stir,
15Till suddenly all her lithe body becomes
16One breathing trembling purr.
17The children eat and wriggle and laugh;
18The two old ladies stroke their silk:
19But the cat is grown small and thin with desire,
20Transformed to a creeping lust for milk.
21The white saucer like some full moon descends
22At last from the clouds of the table above;
23She sighs and dreams and thrills and glows,
24Transfigured with love.
25She nestles over the shining rim,
26Buries her chin in the creamy sea;
27Her tail hangs loose; each drowsy paw
28Is doubled under each bending knee.
29A long dim ecstasy holds her life;
30Her world is an infinite shapeless white,
31Till her tongue has curled the last holy drop,
32Then she sinks back into the night.
33Draws and dips her body to heap
34Her sleepy nerves in the great arm-chair,
35Lies defeated and buried deep
36Three or four hours unconscious there.
Publication Start Year:
Georgian Poetry 2 (1915); Collected Poems, ed. Alida Monro, with prefaces by F. S. Flint and T. S. Eliot (London: Cobden-Sanderson, 1933): 162-63.
RPO poem Editors: