The Old Woman and her Cats

From ImmortalPoetry
Jump to navigationJump to search

Fable XXIII

Who friendship with a knave hath made,
Is judged a partner in the trade.
The matron who conducts abroad
A willing nymph, is thought a bawd;
And if a modest girl is seen
With one who cures a lover's spleen,
We guess her not extremely nice,
And only wish to know her price.
'Tis thus that on the choice of friends
Our good or evil name depends.

   A wrinkled hag, of wicked fame,
Beside a little smoky flame
Sate hovering, pinched with age and frost;
Her shrivelled hands, with veins embossed,
Upon her knees her weight sustains,
While palsy shook her crazy brains:
She mumbles forth her backward prayers,
An untamed scold of fourscore years.
About her swarmed a numerous brood
Of cats, who, lank with hunger, mewed.

   Teased with their cries, her choler grew,
And thus she sputtered: 'Hence, ye crew.
Fool that I was, to entertain
Such imps, such fiends, a hellish train!
Had ye been never housed and nursed,
I, for a witch had ne'er been cursed.
To you I owe, that crowds of boys
Worry me with eternal noise;
Straws laid across, my pace retard,
The horse-shoe's nailed (each threshold's guard),

The stunted broom the wenches hide,
For fear that I should up and ride;
They stick with pins my bleeding seat,
And bid me show my secret teat.'
   'To hear you prate would vex a saint;
Who hath most reason of complaint?'
Replies a cat. 'Let's come to proof.
Had we ne'er starved beneath your roof,
We had, like others of our race,
In credit lived as beasts of chase.

'Tis infamy to serve a hag;
Cats are thought imps, her broom a nag;
And boys against our lives combine,
Because, 'tis said, you cats have nine.'


Add your comment
ImmortalPoetry welcomes all comments. If you do not want to be anonymous, register or log in. It is free.