Henry Beard

Peter Catesby Peter Cates

Henry Beard

Poetry for Cats
Villard Books, 1994, 87 pages.

Poetry for Cats is a clever volume in which Henry Beard (1945-) took 39 well-known poems by as many poets, ranging from Chaucer and Shakespeare to Poe, Whitman and Emily Dickinson, and re-wrote them from the point of view of their cats. I now offer Sitting by the Fire on a Snowy Evening, by Robert Frost’s cat, the original Stopping by the Woods is easily accessible via Google:

Sitting by the Fire on a Snowy Evening

Whose chair this is by now I know.
He’s somewhere in the forest though;
He will not see me sitting here
A place I’m not supposed to go.

He really is a little queer
To leave his fire’s cozy cheer
And ride out by the frozen lake
The coldest evening of the year.

To love the snow it takes a flake:
The chill that makes your footpads ache,
The drifts too high to lurk or creep,
The icicles that drip and break.

His chair is comfy, soft and deep.
But I have got an urge to leap,
And mice to catch before I sleep.
And mice to catch before I sleep.

Douglas Kenney

Beard started working for the Harvard Lampoon while attending the university during the 1960s, where he first met the late Douglas Kenney (1946-1980); they were two of the founders of the National Lampoon and collaborated on the book, Bored of the Rings. Kenney described Beard as “the oldest guy who was ever a teenager.” In 1975, they each got $2.8 million for a buyout of their magazine.

A closing statement from Gertrude Stein’s cat – “A furball is a furball is a furball.”

Beard’s great-grandfather was John C. Breckenridge (1821-1875) who served as the youngest vice-president of the United States in the nation’s history from 1857 to 1861 under Democratic president James Buchanan.


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