Cat Jeoffry

Cat Jeoffry is a self-contained passage from Christopher Smart’s much longer work Jubilate Agno (Rejoice in the Lamb) and the most famous piece of poetry ever written about a cat. Poignantly, Jeoffry was Smart’s companion during his lengthy confinement for mental illness. His close and affectionate observations of the cat’s antics both entertained him and inspired his moving religious celebration.

This new edition retains the original Peter Hay illustrations, using his rubber stamps and linocuts, and adds Tom Woodman’s informative commentary and notes, which place Cat Jeoffry in the context of Smart’s life, works, and connections with Reading.

Often anthologised, this passage from Christopher Smart’s eccentric 18th century masterpiece brims over with the prankish playfulness and sudden ferocity of one of the literary world’s most famous cats. Jeoffry’s quick spirit illuminates Smart’s celebratory poem, to become an embodiment of spiritual devotion, anticipating Blake’s ‘Tygerish’ energies in all their glory.

Peter Hay’s characteristic black and white illustrations rampage through the book.

Extract from Cat Jeoffry
For I will consider my cat Jeoffry.
For he is the servant of the Living God duly and daily serving him.
For at the first glance of the glory of God in the East he worships him in his way.
For this is done by wreathing his body seven times round with elegant quickness.

For first he looks upon his fore-paws to see if they are clean.
For secondly he kicks up behind to clear away there.
For thirdly he works it upon stretch with the fore paws extended.
For fourthly he sharpens his paws by wood.
For fifthly he washes himself.
For sixthly he rolls upon wash.
For seventhly he fleas himself, that he may not be interrupted upon the beat.
For eighthly he rubs himself against a post.
For ninthly he looks up for his instructions.
For tenthly he goes in search of food.

For he counteract the powers of darkness by his electrical skin and glaring eyes.

For he will not do destruction, if he is well fed, neither will he spit without provocation.
For he purrs in thankfulness, when God tells him he’s a good cat.

For every house is incompleat without him and a blessing is lacking in the spirit.

Cat Jeoffry
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