Bethany Roberts' Christmas Fun for Kids: Christmas Poems
THE LEGEND OF THE CAT
At midnight's stroke,On the first Christmas, half the world awoke.Then out of nest and lairCame thronging to Bethlehem the wordless folk;Hurried the beasts of the forest, the birds of the air,To pay the Lord their homage and His due.And Cat came, too,Mincing on delicate feet to see the Child.But being shy and wild,Approached no nearer than the hearth; lay dumbAnd distant there.While the rest knelt in praise,The Cat by too much glory overcomeCould not withdraw her gazeFrom the Nativity; could only stareThrough slitted eyes as things of fur and feather(The deer beside the lion, the pheasant, the hareSafe in the fox's paws) bent down together.Although their anthems lifted all around,She, in her throat, made only a trembling soundAnd could not bow her head.Yet as the morning dawnedAnd one by one the other creatures fledEach to his habitat--The eagle to his crag and to his pondThe otter--only CatRemained beside the dying fire, unableTo quit the place that was both Crib and Stable.Then Mary spoke aloud."Dear Cat," she said, "dear, stiff-necked, proudAnd obstinate beast, I bless you. From this hourLeave wilderness behind you.Because you stayed, though none shall have the powerTo call you servant, yet the hearth shall bind youForever to itself. Both fond and free,Wherever Man is, you shall also be.And many a familyWill smile to hear you singing (where you settle)Household hosannahs like a pulsing kettle."Some winter nightObserve Cat now. Her eyes will suddenly gleamYellow against the light,Her body shudder in a jungle dream,Her claws unsheath their sharpness. She remembersOld times, old barbarous customs, old DecembersBefore she called the tribes of Man her friends.But the dream ends.Then, reassured, she curls herself alongThe floor and hums her cool, domestic song.