T.S. Elliot, a poet and an author, intriguingly found his supreme accomplishment calling himself “ol’ Possum” in a book written in the 1930’s of short poems about cats and their nosy natures. It is one of the most renowned books of poetry in history. “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” is successful because it’s fun. It is pure fun.
Each cat has his or her own behavior and misbehavior. Jenny Anydots, teaches the cockroaches manners and twists curtain strings. Rum Tum Tugger is unhappy with everything. They are an odd yet mysteriously familiar lot. We do not have to have ever been to a train station to know Skimbleshanks the railway cat, a cat whose job it is to watch and keep organized everything going on in his world.
Matched to these fantastic, creative characters is T.S. Elliot’s Nobel Prize winning control of the rhythm flow of the English language. Many of the poems seem to be songs in their own right, jumping lyrically as the cats, frolic, groom and caterwaul.
In case you did not it Andrew Lloyd Webber chose this book to translate into his musical “Cats.” There are a variety of rhyme schemes and literary devices at use making each poem fresh and lively in its own right.
Ol’ Possum’s may leave those unaccustomed with how poetic books work somewhat let down. The book has no central story or point. It is just a fun, playful examination of the lives and natures of cats.
In a note for the culturally sensitive, T.S. Elliot looks somewhat disapprovingly at non-white races particularly Asians. Those considering this book for a classroom or other settings for children should give it a look over first and be ready to explain the “non-politically correct” language.
This is the book that made me fall in love with poetry for life.
Jimmie Aaron Kepler is a writer of speculative fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and reviews books. He’s written for Poetry & Prose Magazine, vox poetica, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Bewildering Stories, Beyond Imagination Literary Magazine, Thinking About Suicide.com, Author Culture, FrontRowLit.com, The Baseball History Podcast, Writing After Fifty, Sunday School Leadership, Church Leadership, Motivators For Sunday School Workers, The Deacon, Preschool Leadership, Sunday School Leader, and The Baptist Program. For sixteen years, he wrote a weekly newspaper column. He has written five fiction and poetry books. All are available on Amazon.com. His blog “Kepler’s Military History Book Reviews” was named a 100 Best Blogs for History Buffs and has had over 750,000 visitors.