Friday, November 16, 2012

Do you dance, Stella dear, do you dance?

Editor's note: A wonderful cat named Stella died this week.  Science fiction and fantasy literature is filled with cats, ranging from the Cheshire Cat to Mogget (from Garth Nix's Sabriel).  And anyone who has ever owned (or spent time around) a cat will also attest to their supernatural powers of sneaking, squeezing in small places, and climbing up on places they should not be.

But it is in Yeats' poem "The Cat and the Moon" that I find the most magical cat of all.  While Yeats' poem is about a male cat named Minnaloushe and contains the cold light of the moon, rather than the friendly warmth of Stella's green eyes, it gives me hope that Stella, too, contains the magic of the universe in her soul, and that somewhere, she, too, dances.


by: W. B. Yeats (1865-1939)

The cat went here and there
And the moon spun round like a top,
And the nearest kin of the moon,
The creeping cat, looked up.
Black Minnaloushe stared at the moon,
For, wander and wail as he would,
The pure cold light in the sky
Troubled his animal blood.
Minnaloushe runs in the grass
Lifting his delicate feet.
Do you dance, Minnaloushe, do you dance?
When two close kindred meet,
What better than call a dance?
Maybe the moon may learn,
Tired of that courtly fashion,
A new dance turn.
Minnaloushe creeps through the grass
From moonlit place to place,
The sacred moon overhead
Has taken a new phase.
Does Minnaloushe know that his pupils
Will pass from change to change,
And that from round to crescent,
From crescent to round they range?
Minnaloushe creeps through the grass
Alone, important and wise,
And lifts to the changing moon
His changing eyes.

"The Cat and the Moon" is reprinted from The Wild Swans at Coole. New York: Macmillan, 1919.