For I will consider my cat Jeoffry

Thanks to Frank Key of the always interesting Hooting Yard for originally drawing my attention to the Jubilate Agno, the sprawling and epic poem by Christopher Smart, and largely written while he was in a madhouse. It contains a homage to his cat Jeoffry and contains the lines “For he can spraggle upon waggle at the word of command”. You can hear Frank Key and Germander Speedwell reading the entire poem in this podcast.

The image above, incidentally, is by Louis Wain, and it is often claimed that his series of cat paintings are testament to the increasing disorder of his mind, a view which is contested by, among others, his biographer Rodney Dale.  It has been said that Wain painted conventional cat pictures long after he had disappeared irretrievably into his loonball psychedelic cat freakout, and that rather than schizophrenia, he had Asperger’s Syndrome.

You can get a covert thrill of anarchy in polite conversation by pronouncing the word “Asperger’s” as “ass-burgers”.


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