Listing into verse with the seasonally (mal)adjusted and ancient LOL cats!

Here’s my list of things to do:

  1. thank yous
  2. write novel
  3. supper
  4. write novel
  5. returns sequin thingy
  6. write novel
  7. passport
  8. write novel
  9. touchtyping
  10. write novel
  11. schools
  12. write novel
  13. Andy –  paint
  14. write novel
  15. green trousers
  16. write novel
  17. judo cheque
  18. write novel

Most of this will happen over the next week or so. Guess what won’t?

I still like lists, even if they’re not the answer to all my problems.

They’re great in prose but they also work in poetry.

I found Christopher Smart’s Jubilate Agno by searching ‘list poem’. It was written 250 years ago – and I absolutely love it. My favourite line, which I found on, is:

For he can spraggle upon waggle at the word of command.

It is impossible not to be cheered by this evidence of the man’s great affection for his pet and the silly, endearing way he expresses it. Here’s a bit more of the poem, and if you go to, you can hear Robert Pinsky, their Poetry Editor reading from it.

From “Jubilate Agno

For I will consider my Cat Jeoffry.
For he is the servant of the Living God, duly and daily serving him.
For at the first glance of the glory of God in the East he worships in his way.
For is this done by wreathing his body seven times round with elegant quickness.
For then he leaps up to catch the musk, which is the blessing of God upon
**his prayer.
For he rolls upon prank to work it in.
For having done duty and received blessing he begins to consider himself.
For this he performs in ten degrees.
For first he looks upon his forepaws to see if they are clean.
For secondly he kicks up behind to clear away there.
For thirdly he works it upon stretch with the forepaws extended.
For fourthly he sharpens his paws by wood.
For fifthly he washes himself.
For sixthly he rolls upon wash.
For seventhly he fleas himself, that he may not be interrupted upon the beat.
For eighthly he rubs himself against a post.
For ninthly he looks up for his instructions.
For tenthly he goes in quest of food.

Here’s Christmas list, a poem by Barrie Armstrong which he swears he found on the floor of a supermarket in late December. It’s probably the truest thing I’ve ever read about the season of goodwill:

toilet rolls


cat food


bin bags

light bulb

They’re both on my list. What’s on yours?

Posted in Writing
4 comments on “Listing into verse with the seasonally (mal)adjusted and ancient LOL cats!
  1. Emily says:

    Hmmmmm…. What won’t get done…. Judo cheque? (glad I’m not the last!)

    Seriously though Cathy – putting your novel on your routine don’t-forget-to-take-out-the-supper list is an important step. Because it will become routine.

  2. Thanks Emily! I hadn’t thought about it that way and for some reason I find it hugely cheering and it has really made me think. Love Cathy
    PS I have paid the judo bill – you may be the last 😦

  3. Aaron says:

    A book filled with great lists is “Life: A User’s Manual” by Georges Perec. Ever read it? Like?

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