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Representations of Cats in Poetry

  • Date Submitted: 01/28/2012 09:37 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 49 
  • Words: 610
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The two poems differ in a number of ways, the first notable difference being in structure. Apartment Cats by Thom Gunn takes a stanzaic form, consisting of three stanzas each composed of six lines. Gunn has used free verse, with irregular rhythmic cadence, both in the actual verses and as a linking mechanism between each verse For example it appears that Gunn has tried to rhyme the last word in each stanza with the last word in the first line of the next stanza, perhaps as a method of maintaining a natural flow throughout the poem.  
This is very different to the form used by Thomas Flatman in An Appeal to Cats in the Business of Love. Flatman’s poem is not split into stanzas and he has used rhyming couplets throughout most of the poem to give an AABBCCDDEEFGGF rhyme scheme. The poem takes a mainly iambic beat, using an unstressed and stressed pattern with mostly eleven to twelve syllables per line, with the exception of the last six lines, which alternate between five and eight syllables, changing to almost the form of a limerick, adding a humorous slant at the end.
The syntax used by Gunn appears to be more complex in terms of punctuation used, with commas mid sentence to create natural pauses as the poem is read and as a method of deciphering the speed and tone from which the poem is interpreted, starting off at a slow pace as the cats awake, ‘The Girls wake, stretch, and pad to the door’, hastening, using shorter, sharper pauses as the cats become more awake and take charge around the apartment.
In terms of representation of the cats in each of the poems, I believe that Flatman has written anthropomorphically, ascribing the attributes of man in the art of love, passion and seduction to that of a cat. I see it as almost a comparison between the sexual actions of cats and those of a man, where the cat is finally portrayed of the superior, experienced being when it comes to such behaviour:
Only cats, when they fall
From a house or a wall,
Keep their feet,...

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