The Naming of Cats

Sep 24, 2010, 11:00 AM |

T S Eliot (1888 - 1965), arguably one the finest and most influential poets of the 20th century. With family roots here in the SouthWest of England, he was an American-turned-Brit born in Missouri who finished his education after Harvard in two of Europe’s finest institutions, first the Sorbonne in Paris and finally Oxford in England where he then lived his life.

On his death, rather than have his ashes interred in  Westminster Abbey in the company of most every major poet and author of the last 500 years, it was his wish that his ashes be taken and interred at St Michael’s Church in the village of East Coker not far from me, from where his ancestors had emigrated to America.

 His epitaph is just two lines from his poem East Coker:

In my beginning is my end.

In my end is my beginning.

 His death was later commemorated by the laying of a large stone in the floor of Poets Corner in Westminster Abbey among all his contemporaries and predecessors.

Anyway, this is my senior cat ~ his name is Scampi. . . kinda makes me think of T S Eliot and a particular poem of his!

The Naming of Cats

The naming of Cats is a difficult matter,
It isn't just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I'm as mad as a hatter
When I tell you, a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES.
First of all, there's the name that the family use daily,
Such as Peter, Augustus, Alonzo or James,
Such as Victor or Jonathan, George or Bill Bailey--
All of them sensible everyday names.
There are fancier names if you think they sound sweeter,
Some for the gentlemen, some for the dames:
Such as Plato, Admetus, Electra, Demeter--
But all of them sensible everyday names.
But I tell you, a cat needs a name that's particular,
A name that's peculiar, and more dignified,
Else how can he keep up his tail perpendicular,
Or spread out his whiskers, or cherish his pride?
Of names of this kind, I can give you a quorum,
Such as Munkustrap, Quaxo, or Coricopat,
Such as Bombalurina, or else Jellylorum-
Names that never belong to more than one cat.
But above and beyond there's still one name left over,
And that is the name that you never will guess;
The name that no human research can discover--
But THE CAT HIMSELF KNOWS, and will never confess.
When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:
His ineffable effable
Deep and inscrutable singular Name.

                                                         ~ T S Eliot