Poem

Stevie Smith

June 24, 2013

THE GALLOPING CAT

Stevie Smith 1901-1971

A true eccentric, Stevie Smith lived alone in London, working in an office, and writing her poems in the evenings. I love their strangeness and whimsy, and this is one of my all time favourites, perhaps because I keep such a cat, perhaps because I am such a cat. And what can be better than the cinder path of wrath?


Oh I am a cat that likes to
Gallop about doing good
So
One day when I was
Galloping about doing good, I saw
A figure in the path; I said
Get off! (Be-
cause
I am a cat that likes to
Gallop about doing good)
But he did not move, instead
He raised his hand as if
To land me a cuff
So I made to dodge so as to
Prevent him bringing it orf,
Un-for-tune-ately I slid
On a banana skin
Some Ass had left instead
Of putting in the bin. So
His hand caught me on the cheek
I tried
To lay his arm open from wrist to elbow
With my sharp teeth
Because I am
A cat that likes to gallop about doing good.
Would you believe it?
He wasnt there
My teeth met nothing but air,
But a Voice said: Poor Cat,
(Meaning me) and a soft stroke
Came on me head
Since when
I have been bald.
I regard myself as
A martyr to doing good
Also I heard a swoosh
As of wings, and saw
A halo shining at the height of
Mrs Gubbinss backyard fence,
So I thought: Whats the good
Of galloping about doing good
When angels stand in the path
And do not do as they should
Such as having an arm to be bitten off
All the same I
Intend to go on being
A cat that likes to
Gallop about doing good
So
Now with my bald head I go,
Chopping the untidy flowers down, to
and fro,
An scooping up the grass to show
Underneath
The cinder path of wrath
Ha ha ha ha, ho,
Angels arent the only ones who do
not know
Whats what and that
Galloping about doing good
Is a full time job
That needs
An experienced eye of earthly
Sharpness, worth I dare say
(if youll forgive a personal note)
A good deal more
Than all that skyey stuff
Of angels that make so bold as
To pity a cat like me that
Gallops about doing good.