The Cat in the Hwæt: An Old English Seuss Translation -The Toast

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Beowulf_Cotton_MS_Vitellius_A_XV_f._132rHark! We have heard tales sung of the great storm,
And the raindrops that fell like cold, wet spears,
how they smothered the unshining sun!

There was Sally, sitter of stools,
Batter of baseballs, brave in the outfield.
The Warrior of Little League had fallen far!
Slumped stool-sitter, and hater of sitting in stools,
Wisher at the window, watching the whale-road deepen with water.

A boy-child and her brother, I had before been bird-chaser,
Bare-footed grass-galloper, gazer at clouds,
Celebrant of summer sunshine and silver dusk:
That was good weather!

Now I was mourner of mud, of mirth-turned sorrow:
Sorrow of sogginess, of sun-starved boredom.
There was nothing to do!


We, window watchers, instead looked door-ward,
Witnessed his walk, the wet-footed mat-stepper,
Whisker-nosed wanderer, whimsically helmed,
Creature of cunning: the Cat in the Hat!

“Hail, home-dwellers, heart-weary prisoners of rain-boredom,” he said.
“Games have I gathered, goodly tricks,
Salve for the storm slush, banishers of bench-sitting.”

Cat in the Hat was the name of this feline,
And after storm-fall, he had set forth
For our lofty house, to see the stool-sitters.

Suddenly then the cap-bearing creature was creating havoc:
Festive and fun-seeking, he grabbed the fish,
Flung it aloft, flushed and inflamed with its fear and its fury.

“Banish this beast, balancer of fish bowls!”
Goldfish growled, groaning with the height-fear.
But the high-climbing hatted one did not heed him,
Instead, he became ball-hopper and balancer of books,
One-footed wielder of cup and of cake,
Bearer of umbrella-balanced toy ships and of milk-heavy dishes.

Then fell the cat, greeted the ground with his whiskers,
Fallen and felled by a slip of the foot, fish-scolded and floor-seated.

The storied feline, sat stricken and helpless,
Bewildered and stunned, staring aghast
At the milk-saucer, the milk-stained books and ship,
And the rain-like falling of cup and of cake.

But the hat-helmed feline rose to his feet,
Spoke again:
“I, boredom-banisher, storm-wanderer,
Will show two tricks more: Things One and Two.”

Then ran the Things, kite-string carriers,
Careless of framed hangings, manglers of mother’s dresses.
Now the timber of the house trembled and sang,
The two things crashed through the hall.
We did not like their play!

So we, once window-watchers, instead wielded nets,
Became Thing snatchers, and halted their raid.
We said at last to the cat: “Take them away.”

Now the hatted cat hung his head low,
Let his whiskers wilt with sorrow.
He said, “Oh dear, you did not like our game?”
Already he placed the home-breakers in their crate,
Bore the box on his back, bowed his helmed head at the door.
He was remembering when he had been a greeted guest in that hall,
How he had been welcome to the window-watchers,
Fur-footed traveler and hat-bearing friend.
But now the stool-sitters had turned, Sally and brother.
They had become defenders of the dinnerware, dauntless against foes,
Champions of the china and of the fishbowl, though children still.
No longer stool-sitters, but silverware savers, protectors of home.
The cat could not wreak havoc as before!

Cassandra Rasmussen received a goose feather quill pen in her Old English class and gasped with joy. She has previously been published in "Grey Sparrow Magazine," "Harvard Tuesday Magazine," "The Harvard Crimson," and has been accepted for publication in "Cricket Magazine."

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