Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
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Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
 
Jungfrau Spaiger’s Apostrophe to Her Cat
By Anthony Bleecker (1770–1827)
 
          A late London paper mentions that the celebrated Manheim Telescope, the master-piece of the famous Spaiger, a Hungarian optician, was recently destroyed in a singular manner. A servant of the Observatory having taken out the glasses to clean them, put them in again, without observing that a cat had crept into the tube. At night, the animal being alarmed at the strong powers of the Lunar rays, endeavored to escape; but the effort threw down the instrument, which, falling to the ground from the top of a tower, was broken to pieces. The writer, presuming that the cat was killed by the fall, imagines the daughter of the astronomer as breaking forth in the following Lament.


WHAT whisker’d ghost, at this mild moonlight hour,
Invites my steps, and points to yonder tower?
’Tis Puss, my darling Puss; all bleeding! pale!
Gash’d are her ears, and scotch’d her lengthy tail.
Oh, tell thy tale, and I will lend an ear—        5
Then sweep to my revenge, Grimalkin, dear.
Oh say, did boys, or other cruel hounds,
Conspire thy death, and give those ghastly wounds?
 
Or, tell me Puss, ’tis what I dread the most,
Did some Kilkenny cat make thee a ghost?        10
Canst thou not speak? Ah then I ’ll seek the cause;
What see I here? the bloody prints of paws;
And oh, chaste stars! what broken limbs appear,
Here lie thy legs; the Telescope’s lie here.
The Telescope o’erturn’d;—too plain I see        15
The cause, the cause of thy cat-astrophe.
 
Was it for this, my sire on topmost tower,
Gazed at the stars till midnight’s dewy hour,
Outwatch’d the Bear, and saw Orion rise,
While Hesper lent her light to other skies?        20
Was it for this, he gave such strict command,
To clean the glasses with a careful hand,
And then to search the tube with nicest care,
To see nor cat, nor kit, were nestling there;
Lest, like old Sidrophel, star-gazing wight,        25
Who wisely made a comet of a kite,
My cat, perhaps, ’twixt Mercury and Mars,
Had help’d to swell the cat-alogue of stars.
 
O! say what led thee to that giddy height,
Thou Queen of cats! that witching time of night;        30
Was it cat-optrics fired thy feline heart,
And didst thou dare to act the sage’s part,
And peeping at the moon, while stretch’d at ease,
Discover with delight ’twas all green cheese?
Or didst thou wish to take a near survey,        35
Of that delicious stream, the milky-way,
And while the dog-star in the welkin raves,
To take a leap, and lap its cream-clad waves?
 
Ah me! what terrors through thy frame were spread,
When Luna’s rays refracted on thy head,        40
And fill’d thy gooseberry eyes with beams so thick,
No wonder thou becam’st a lunatic;
Lost all reflection; scarce retain’d a hope,
Immured in a reflecting telescope.
The concave mirror first thy fury bore,        45
The convex lens but vexed thee the more:
Then all thy rage was to a focus brought;
To tilt the tube was now thy only thought;
 
Flounce—bounce:—it tumbles from the turret wall,
Breaking itself, but breaking not thy fall!        50
Oh direful fall!—But why indulge this wo?
Can cat-aracts of tears avail thee now?
No; thou art bound to Hecate’s wizzard shore,
Where Whittington’s famed cat has gone before;
And to appease thy ghost my task shall be,        55
To consecrate a cat-acomb to thee.
 
Embalm’d, dear shade, with true Egyptian care,
Across the Atlantic wave thy corpse I ’ll bear,
And where old Catskill props the western sky,
The fur-clad relics of my cat shall lie.        60
There shall thy favorite herbs and plants be found,
The cat-mint there shall shed its sweets around;
The savory mushroom from the sod shall start,
And to the breeze its catsup sweets impart.
While the tall cat-tail, on the reedy shore,        65
Shall hang his head, and thy sad fate deplore.
 
One warbler of the grove will ne’er forget
To pay to thee his grateful, tuneful debt;
The cat-bird, perch’d on the catalpa tree,
Shall squall that note he learnt, poor puss, from thee,        70
While from the mount, the valley, and the plain,
The weeping pole-cat shall repeat the strain.
 
 
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