Henry N. Beard

“Hamlet's Cat's Soliloquy"To go outside, and there perchance to stayOr to remain within: that is the question:Whether 'tis better for a cat to suffer The cuffs and buffets of inclement weatherThat Nature rains on those who roam abroad,Or take a nap upon a scrap of carpet,And so by dozing melt the solid hoursThat clog the clock's bright gears with sullen timeAnd stall the dinner bell. To sit, to stareOutdoors, and by a stare to seem to stateA wish to venture forth without delay,Then when the portal's opened up, to standAs if transfixed by doubt. To prowl; to sleep;To choose not knowing when we may once more Our readmittance gain: aye, there's the hairball;For if a paw were shaped to turn a knob,Or work a lock or slip a window-catch,And going out and coming in were madeAs simple as the breaking of a bowl,What cat would bear the houselhold's petty plagues,The cook's well-practiced kicks, the butler's broom,The infant's careless pokes, the tickled ears,The trampled tail, and all the daily shocksThat fur is heir to, when, of his own will,He might his exodus or entrance makeWith a mere mitten? Who would spaniels fear,Or strays trespassing from a neighbor's yard,But that the dread of our unheeded cries And scraches at a barricaded doorNo claw can open up, dispels our nerveAnd makes us rather bear our humans' faultsThan run away to unguessed miseries?Thus caution doth make house cats of us all;And thus the bristling hair of resolutionIs softened up with the pale brush of thought,And since our choices hinge on weighty things,We pause upon the threshold of decision.”
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