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May 3, 2013

Poetry Friday--A Favorite

National Poetry Month has come and gone. It's time to sit back a little, and let our minds rest from the challenges we set up for ourselves last month. So, for today, I'm going to share a favorite cat poem:
The Cat As Cat
by Denise Levertov

The cat on my bosom
sleeping and purring
--fur-petalled chrysanthemum,

is a metaphor only if I
force him to be one,
looking too long in his pale, fond,
dilating, contracting eyes

that reject mirrors, refuse
to observe what bides

flex and reflex of claws
gently pricking through sweater to skin
gently sustains their own tune
not mine. I-Thou, cat, I-Thou.

fur-petalled chrysanthemum Fabulous image, don't you agree?

If you'd like to leave the title of one of your favorites, please do so in the comments. I'm always curious about what others find appealing.

This weekend I'm trying something new. I'm heading out to a writers' retreat, but, instead of going to the retreat as a children's writer, I'm attending as a poet. I'm petrified! I've never workshopped my poems and I can't imagine what it'll be like. Wish me luck, or at least that I return Sunday night all in one piece. As I told a friend, workshop puts me in mind of chop-shop!

Before I go I hope to be able to spend a little time at the Poetry Friday Round-Up, which is being hosted this week by Elizabeth Steinglass.


  1. Hi, Diane! Have FABULOUS time at your retreat! Fellow attendees will be as fortunate to have you among them as you are to be there.

    I love this poem for today. I also love these last two stanzas from Valerie Worth's "Cat":
    "She settles slight neat muscles/Smoothly down within/ Her comfortable fur,

    Slips in the ends, front paws,/ Tail, until she is readied,/ Arranged, shaped for sleep."

    (Isn't that "shaped for sleep" delicious?)

  2. Very nice! (The poem and your upcoming retreat.) I'll wish you luck because you asked for it, not because you need it. Relax and enjoy yourself!

  3. Have a great time at the retreat! I'm totally jealous.
    My favorite line from this feline poem is:"a metaphor only if I force him to be one." I will want to mull that over for a while.

  4. Yes, Liz, that is a great line! And thanks everyone for your well wishes! I'm still not packed, but, at least I got the cats off to be boarded.

  5. I've been reading Denise Levertov the last few weeks, too. Such strong images. I sometimes wonder just how these accomplished poets came up with their startling images. What were the thought processes that led to "fur-petalled chrysanthemum"?

    Have a wonderful time at your retreat. Workshopping poems can be wonderful and terrifying at the same time!

    1. Interesting question, Dori! I always enjoy learning others' thought processes.

  6. Love the line you picked out, and also that flex and reflex.

    I know you're having a terrific time at your retreat, poet! Share when you get back...

    1. I did have a great time. Everyone was so generous! I'll report soon.

  7. Enjoy your retreat!
    I like the lines:
    "dilating, contracting eyes
    that reject mirrors"
    Cats are mysterious creatures to me - our dog loves to check herself out in mirrors - without barking! LOL!

    1. It's funny how cats just don't seem to see anything in a mirror! That may be one of the reasons that cats are considered such perfect companions for witches.

  8. Ha! I'm all about cats this week, too! Come over and check out the two I feature, plus a link to a collection put together by the Poetry Foundation!

    Great minds think in meows!!

    1. I hope to get there soon, Mary Lee, I am sooo far behind now.

  9. Hope you have a wonderful time at the workshop! Let us know what you learn.

  10. I agree with Liz: my favorite line is the one about the cat not being a metaphor. I hope the workshop went well -- I'm visiting late this week!

  11. Ruth, it's never too late! I'll be visiting everyone late! Going away for the weekend makes it hard to keep up.