The Fables of Florian (tr. Phelps)/The Inquisitive Cat

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The Fables of Florian (tr. Phelps) by Jean Pierre Claris de Florian, translated by John Wolcott Phelps
The Inquisitive Cat
Fables of Florian6.jpg

fable v.
THE INQUISITIVE CAT.

Ye bold philosophers who strain
Th' inexplicable to explain,
Deign but to listen while I tell
What once a curious cat befell.

This tabby one day chanced to pass
Before her master's toilette glass;
And made an effort to come at

What seemed to her a stranger cat.
Failing in front the cat to find,
She slyly then stole round behind.
Not meeting there the cat she sought,
And almost to her wit's end brought,
Yet bent the mystery to explore,
   She mounted on the glass astride,
One paw behind and one before
   And in that way to catch it tried.

Now, bending down, an ear she spies,
And then another, which she eyes;
Then with spry movements, quick and deft,
Working her paws from right to left,
She strives to grab the fleeting shade.
The shadows still her grasp evade,
   Till, losing balance, down she went—
Down from the table to the floor—
Resolv'd to hunt for shades no more,
   But with plain sense to be content.

Turning away from things so nice,
She left the glass and went for mice.
"For what," thought she, "can be the use
Pursuing matters so abstruse?"
Involv'd in snares without an end,
Which none can ever comprehend,
Let wise philosophers discuss,
What has no use for them or us.