Wednesday, October 11, 2017
Possessed of a Cat, Surpassing in Beauty
I was standing around in Square Books yesterday, killing time before Beth Ann Fennelly's reading, and I picked up a book about animals, but I'm ashamed to say I can't remember the title even though it had an owl in it. What chiefly surprised me about this particular owl is that it appears, according to the book I picked up, in Fragment B of Christopher Smart's JUBILATE AGNO, a fragment from which I have often read, but I have never noticed the owl. In my defense, that is a long fragment! And it starts with letting a lot people rejoice... like, hundreds? People or angels or saints or something. All rejoicing. Or being allowed or encouraged to rejoice. I guess. "Let Bukki rejoice with the Buzzard" is one example. "Let Hur rejoice with the Water-wag-tail." Okay! Whatever you say, Christopher Smart. Hundreds of those, maybe. And eventually we get to Shephatiah, who is supposed to "rejoice with the little Owl, which is the winged cat." I never thought of owls that way before, but I'm buying it. And Christopher Smart adds, "For I am possessed of a cat, surpassing in beauty, from whom I take occasion to bless almighty God."