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The Old Gumbie Cat - T.S. Eliot

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Joshua V

on 18 November 2013

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Transcript of The Old Gumbie Cat - T.S. Eliot

Analysis
Introduction
Activities
Related questions on upcoming quiz
"The Old Gumbie Cat" - T.S. Eliot

I have a Gumbie Cat in mind
Her name is Jennyanydots
Her coat is of the tabby kind with tiger stripes and leopard spots
All day she sits upon the stair or on the step or on the mat
She sits and sits and sits and sits
And that's what makes a Gumbie Cat
That's what makes a Gumbie Cat!

But . . .
When the day's hustle and bustle is done
Then the Gumbie Cat's work is but hardly begun
And when all the family's in bed and asleep
She tucks up her skirts to the basement to creep
She is deeply concerned with the ways of the mice
Their behaviour's not good and their manners not nice
So when she has got them lined up on the matting
She teaches them music, crocheting and tatting

I have a Gumbie Cat in mind
Hr name is Jennyanydots
Her equal would be hard to find
Se likes the warm and sunny spots
All day she sits beside the hearth or on the bed or on my hat
She sits and sits and sits and sits
And that's what makes a Gumbie Cat
That's what makes a Gumbie Cat!

But . . . When the day's hustle and bustle is done
Then the Gumbie Cat's work is but hardly begun
As she finds that the mice will not ever keep quiet
She is sure it is due to irregular diet
And believing that nothing is done without trying
She sets right to work with her baking and frying
She makes them a mouse-cake of bread and dried peas
And a beautiful fry of lean bacon and cheese

I have a Gumbie Cat in mind
Her name is Jennyanydots
The curtain cord she likes to wind and tie it into sailor knots
She sits upon the windowsill or anything that's smooth and flat
She sits and sits and sits and sits
And that's what makes a Gumbie Cat
That's what makes a Gumbie Cat!

But . . .
When the day's hustle and bustle is done
Then the Gumbie Cat's work is but hardly begun
She thinks that the cockroaches need employment
To prevent them from idle and wanton destroyment
So she's formed from that lot of disorderly louts
A troop of well disciplined helpful boy scouts
With a purpose in life and a good deed to do
And she's even created a Beetles Tattoo!

So for old Gumbie Cats let us give three cheers
On whom well ordered households depend, it appears
Three cheers, three cheers, three cheers!
For she's a jolly good fellow!

Thank you my dears!
The Old Gumbie Cat
What are the mice doing?
The overall mood?
Motif?
How does the cat's behavior vary throughout the progression of the poem?
Background
Interpretations
Interpretation #1
Interpretation #2
The Old Gumbie Cat is a poem from T.S. Eliot's collection "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats"

It was written around 1939

Eliot dedicated this poem to his godchildren

He never had any children with either of his wives

He had inguinal hernia when he was little

He was made fun of because of his condition of "inguinal hernia"

Thus resulting in his "isolated" themed poems
Literal interpretation
Ideas?
Metaphorical interpretation
The poet simply created a fictional story to describe how passive a cat is during the day.
The poem is seemingly about a cat that acts against its genetic nature after daylight hours, when it creeps downstairs and interacts with mice and cockroaches. Rather than chasing them around, the cat instead ironically helps them.
The poem, The Old Gumbie Cat, is about a cat named Jennyanydots. In this poem, she is initially portrayed as a lazy tabby cat who sleeps all day.
However, as the poem continues, it is revealed that the Gumbie Cat is not only lazy, but also a responsible cat.
Main floor
The basement
“I have a Gumbie Cat in mind/Her name is Jennyanydots” – line 1-2, 17-18, and 34-35

“She sits and sits and sits and sits/and that’s what makes a Gumbie Cat!/That’s what makes a Gumbie Cat!” – 5-7, 22-24, 38-40

“But. . ./When the day’s hustle and bustle is done/Then the Gumbie Cat’s work is but hardly begun” 8-10, 25-27, and 41-43

What does the cat symbolize? What do the mice and cockroaches symbolize? What does the "Beetles Tattoo" mean?
One could argue that the Gumbie Cat symbolized the people in the society.
Iambic Octometer

I have/ a Gum/ bie cat/ in mind,/ her name/ is Jen/ nyan/y dots

de-dum de-dum de-dum de-dum de-dum de-dum de-dum de-dum

The Old Gumbie Cat is written in a light verse format. It was intended to be comedic since his direct audience were his godchildren
Cheerful
Thrilling
Mysterious/Ironic
Who is/are the speaker(s)?
What is the main theme?
Appearance vs. reality?

Defiance of social norms (in this case irony)?

Theme
Imagery
Symbols
Tone
Settings
Repetition
Sentence Structure
Speaker

The whole poem?

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/02/books/review/the-letters-of-t-s-eliot-volume-1-1898-1922-revised-edition-volume-2-1923-1925-book-review.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T._S._Eliot#Death_and_honours
http://rosenstein.wikispaces.com/
http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/chl/summary/v007/7.hodge.html
http://thenewsfrompoems.blogspot.ca/2011/03/old-gumbie-cat.html
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/inguinal-hernia/DS00364
The Old Gumbie Cat is simply a cat, and therefore is expected to chase the mice and cockroaches, but instead, she teaches and helps them.

Elliot claims that "[he is] very dependent on women", yet leaves his wife just so he could accept Harvard's offer.
Could it be...

The cat?
The owner?
The narrator?
The narrator (cat)?
Do you even rhyme?

The main objective of the game is to provide a rhyming word according to the requirements (i.e. amount of syllables)
Now you see me...

From your interpretation of The Old Gumbie Cat, draw a picture of what you think the cat would look like based on the poem's descriptions
Full transcript