T. S. Eliot: Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer

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Thomas Stearns Eliot: Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer
from “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats”

Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer were a very notorious couple of cats.
As knockabout clowns, quick-change comedians, tight-rope walkers and acrobats
They had an extensive reputation. They made their home in Victoria Grove –
That was merely their centre of operation, for they were incurably given to rove.
They were very well known in cornwall Gardens, in Launceston Place and in Kensington Square –
they had really a little more reputation than a couple of cats can very well bear.

If the area window was found ajar
And the basement looked like a field of war,
If a tile or two came loose on the roof,
Which presently ceased to be waterproff,
If the drawers were pulled out from the bedroom chests,
And you couldn’t find one of your winter vests,
Or after supper one of the girls
Suddenly missed her Woolworth pearls:
Then the family would say: `It’s that horrible cat!
It was Mungojerrie – or Rumpelteazer!’ – And most of the time they left it at that.

Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer had a very unusual gift of the gab.
They were highly efficient cat-burglars as well, and remarkably smart at a smash-and-grab.
They made their home in Victoria Grove. They had no regular occupation.
they were plausible fellows, and liked to engage a friendly policeman in conversation.

When the family assembled for Sunday dinner,
With their minds made up that they wouldn’t get thinner
On Argentine joint, potatoes and greens,
And the cook would appear from behind the scenes
And say in a voice that was broken with sorrow:
`I’m afraid you must wait and have dinner tomorrow!
For the joint has gone from the oven – like that!’
Then the family would say: `It’s that horrible cat!
It was Mungojerrie – or Rumpelteazer!’ – And most of the time they left it at that.

Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer had a wonderful way of working together.
And some of the time you would say it was luck, and some of the time you would say it was weather.
They would go through the house like a hurricane, and no sober person could take his oath
Was it Mungojerrie – or Rumpelteazer? or could you have sworn that it mightn’t be both?

And when you heard a dining-room smash
Or up from the pantry there came a loud crash
Or down from the library came a loud ping
From a vase which was commonly said to be Ming –
Then the family would say: `Now which was which cat?
It was Mungojerrie! AND Rumpelteazer!’ – And there’s nothing at all to be done about that!

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