To a Cat

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To a Cat
by Algernon Charles Swinburne
This poem is from the collection Astrophel and Other Poems, Book I of The Collected Poetical Works of Algernon Charles Swinburne, Vol. VI.

     I

     Stately, kindly, lordly friend,
           Condescend
     Here to sit by me, and turn
     Glorious eyes that smile and burn,
     Golden eyes, love's lustrous meed,
     On the golden page I read.

     All your wondrous wealth of hair,
           Dark and fair,
     Silken-shaggy, soft and bright
     As the clouds and beams of night,
     Pays my reverent hand's caress
     Back with friendlier gentleness.

     Dogs may fawn on all and some
           As they come;
     You, a friend of loftier mind,
     Answer friends alone in kind.
     Just your foot upon my hand
     Softly bids it understand.

     Morning round this silent sweet
           Garden-seat
     Sheds its wealth of gathering light,
     Thrills the gradual clouds with might,
     Changes woodland, orchard, heath,
     Lawn, and garden there beneath.

     Fair and dim they gleamed below:
           Now they glow
     Deep as even your sunbright eyes,
     Fair as even the wakening skies.
     Can it not or can it be
     Now that you give thanks to see?

     May not you rejoice as I,
           Seeing the sky
     Change to heaven revealed, and bid
     Earth reveal the heaven it hid
     All night long from stars and moon,
     Now the sun sets all in tune?

     What within you wakes with day
           Who can say?
     All too little may we tell,
     Friends who like each other well,
     What might haply, if we might,
     Bid us read our lives aright.


     II

     Wild on woodland ways your sires
           Flashed like fires;
     Fair as flame and fierce and fleet
     As with wings on wingless feet
     Shone and sprang your mother, free,
     Bright and brave as wind or sea.

     Free and proud and glad as they,
           Here to-day
     Rests or roams their radiant child,
     Vanquished not, but reconciled,
     Free from curb of aught above
     Save the lovely curb of love.

     Love through dreams of souls divine
           Fain would shine
     Round a dawn whose light and song
     Then should right our mutual wrong--
     Speak, and seal the love-lit law
     Sweet Assisi's seer foresaw.

     Dreams were theirs; yet haply may
           Dawn a day
     When such friends and fellows born,
     Seeing our earth as fair at morn,
     May for wiser love's sake see
     More of heaven's deep heart than we.