Wednesday, December 13, 2006


Friend M is preparing for the office xmas party, they have planned a 10 minute version of Cats. As I talked to her about it, I remembered listening to the soundtrack of the London cast's version way way back. Songs flooded back to mind, and I could recall some lyrics. My favorite part is not Memory, but the Naming of the Cats. And as the entire play is based on Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats and other poems by TS Eliot, I did a Google search and came across the poems online. Here are my favorite bits:

The naming of cats is a difficult matter,
It isn't just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I'm as mad as a hatter
When I tell you, a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES.
and the last stanza goes

"But above and beyond there's still one name left over,
And that is the name that you never will guess;
The name that no human research can discover -
But THE CAT HIMSELF KNOWS, and will never confess.
When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:
His ineffable effable
Deep and inscrutable singular Name."

I sincerely believe this, just try to call a cat and see if they'll listen to you. Honestly. Like banging your head against a brick wall....


So, along the lines of the research, I found that Memory is not in the list of Eliot's poems from
OLD POSSUM..., but taken from "Rhapsody on a Windy Night" and "Preludes":

"8Every street lamp that I pass
9Beats like a fatalistic drum,
10And through the spaces of the dark
11Midnight shakes the memory
12As a madman shakes a dead geranium.

Half-past one,
14The street lamp sputtered,
15The street lamp muttered,

50"Regard the moon,
51La lune ne garde aucune rancune,
52She winks a feeble eye,
53She smiles into corners.
54She smoothes the hair of the grass.
55The moon has lost her memory.
56A washed-out smallpox cracks her face,
57Her hand twists a paper rose,
58That smells of dust and old Cologne,
59She is alone
60With all the old nocturnal smells
61That cross and cross across her brain."
62The reminiscence comes
63Of sunless dry geraniums
64And dust in crevices,
65Smells of chestnuts in the streets,
66And female smells in shuttered rooms,
67And cigarettes in corridors
68And cocktail smells in bars."
- Rhapsody on a Windy Night

1The winter evening settles down
2With smell of steaks in passageways.
3Six o'clock.
4The burnt-out ends of smoky days.
5And now a gusty shower wraps
6The grimy scraps
7Of withered leaves about your feet
8And newspapers from vacant lots;
9The showers beat
10On broken blinds and chimney-pots,
11And at the corner of the street
12A lonely cab-horse steams and stamps.
13And then the lighting of the lamps.

14The morning comes to consciousness
15Of faint stale smells of beer
16From the sawdust-trampled street
17With all its muddy feet that press
18To early coffee-stands.

19With the other masquerades
20That time resumes,
21One thinks of all the hands
22That are raising dingy shades
23In a thousand furnished rooms.

24You tossed a blanket from the bed,
25You lay upon your back, and waited;
26You dozed, and watched the night revealing
27The thousand sordid images
28Of which your soul was constituted;
29They flickered against the ceiling.
30And when all the world came back
31And the light crept up between the shutters
32And you heard the sparrows in the gutters,
33You had such a vision of the street
34As the street hardly understands;
35Sitting along the bed's edge, where
36You curled the papers from your hair,
37Or clasped the yellow soles of feet
38In the palms of both soiled hands.

39His soul stretched tight across the skies
40That fade behind a city block,
41Or trampled by insistent feet
42At four and five and six o'clock;
43And short square fingers stuffing pipes,
44And evening newspapers, and eyes
45Assured of certain certainties,
46The conscience of a blackened street
47Impatient to assume the world.

48I am moved by fancies that are curled
49Around these images, and cling:
50The notion of some infinitely gentle
51Infinitely suffering thing.

52Wipe your hand across your mouth, and laugh;
53The worlds revolve like ancient women
54Gathering fuel in vacant lots.

Cats and Phantom... don't make my personal list of favorite musicals of all time, but Cats has an advantage over Phantom - I like cats (chortle), and the songs are poetic. Phantom has always come off as a B-rated gothic horror to me. And don't bring up Sarah Brightman, yoiks.


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