by Percy Bysshe Shelley
Fragment: Omens

Verses on a Cat

Published by Hogg, "Life of Shelley", 1858; dated 1800.

A cat in distress,
Nothing more, nor less;
Good folks, I must faithfully tell ye,
As I am a sinner,
It waits for some dinner
To stuff out its own little belly.
You would not easily guess
All the modes of distress
Which torture the tenants of earth;
And the various evils,
Which like so many devils,
Attend the poor souls from their birth.
Some a living require,
And others desire
An old fellow out of the way;
And which is the best
I leave to be guessed,
For I cannot pretend to say.
One wants society,
Another variety,
Others a tranquil life;
Some want food,
Others, as good,
Only want a wife.
But this poor little cat
Only wanted a rat,
To stuff out its own little maw;
And it were as good
SOME people had such food,
To make them HOLD THEIR JAW!