Christopher Smart (Tri-Centennial)

Christopher Smart (1722-1771)

The ecstatic, possessed, 18th-Century English poet, Christopher Smart, a considerable influence on Allen and on the writing of “Howl”, was born three-hundred years ago on this day.

We’ve noted Smart’s contribution significantly in the past on the Allen Ginsberg Project  – see here and here,  and, several years later, here and here and here

and in a six-part series – here, here, here, here, here, and here,

Perhaps best-known, still – for “For I will consider my Cat Jeoffry” 

For I will consider my Cat Jeoffry.
For he is the servant of the Living God duly and daily serving him.
For at the first glance of the glory of God in the East he worships in his way.
For is this done by wreathing his body seven times round with elegant quickness.
For then he leaps up to catch the musk, which is the blessing of God upon his prayer.
For he rolls upon prank to work it in.
For having done duty and received blessing he begins to consider himself.
For this he performs in ten degrees.
For First he looks upon his fore-paws to see if they are clean.
For Secondly he kicks up behind to clear away there.
For Thirdly he works it upon stretch with the fore-paws extended.
For Fourthly he sharpens his paws by wood.
For Fifthly he washes himself.
For Sixthly he rolls upon wash.
For Seventhly he fleas himself, that he may not be interrupted upon the beat.
For Eighthly he rubs himself against a post.
For Ninthly he looks up for his instructions.
For Tenthly he goes in quest of food.
For having consider’d God and himself he will consider his neighbour…

Allen Ginsberg and cat – Photograph by Fred W McDarrah  c. the Estate of Fred W McDarrah

and so it goes on – read the entire – and certainly one-of-a-kind poem – here

Read the longer work from which it is excerpted – Jubilate Agno, the extraordinary  Jubilate Agno  (only discovered, belatedly, in 1939)

“Smart went crazy”

Happy Tri-Centennial, Christopher Smart!

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