January 9, 2018

Cat + Night + Magic

        There’s a long, deep, connection between cats, night, and magic, well captured in this poem by Elizabeth Coatsworth (USA, 1893-1986).
     On a Night of Snow

Cat, if you go outdoors, you must walk in the snow.
You will come back with little white shoes on your feet,
little white shoes of snow that have heels of sleet.
Stay by the fire, my Cat. Lie still, do not go.
See how the flames are leaping and hissing low,
I will bring you a saucer of milk like a marguerite,
so white and so smooth, so spherical and so sweet —
stay with me, Cat. Outdoors the wild winds blow.

Outdoors the wild winds blow, Mistress, and dark is the night,
strange voices cry in the trees, intoning strange lore,
and more than cats move, lit by our eyes’ green light,
on silent feet where the meadow grasses hang hoar —
Mistress, there are portents abroad of magic and might,
and things that are yet to be done. Open the door!

        My cat is not allowed outdoors, but I suspect that she is not particularly attuned to magic anyway.  She’s not the most mystical of creatures.  Still, cats aside, it is easy to imagine elemental spirits abroad and magic strong on a dark, whirling night of snow.

[Picture: Old Town on a Wintry Night (guzhen xueye), woodcut by An Bin, 1998 (Image from Art Institute Chicago).]

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