Old Deuteronomy Poem – T.S. Eliot (1888-1965)

Old Deuteronomy is a character in T. S. Eliot’s 1939 Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats and its 1981 musical adaptation, Cats. He is a wise and beloved elderly cat, further serving as the Jellicle patriarch in the musical.The role of Old Deuteronomy originated by Brian Blessed in the West End in 1981, and by Ken Page on Broadway in 1982. Judi Dench plays Old Deuteronomy in the 2019 film adaptation.

Old Deuteronomy Poem - T.S. Eliot (1888-1965)
Old Deuteronomy Poem – T.S. Eliot (1888-1965)

Old Deuteronomy Poem – T.S. Eliot (1888-1965)

Old Deuteronomy’s lived a long time;

He’sa Cat who has lived many lves in


Hewas famous in proverb and famous in


A long while before Queen Victoria’s accession

Old Deuteronomy’s buried nine wives

And more-Iam tempted to say, ninety-nine;

And his numerous progeny prospers and


and the village is proud of him in his decline.

At the sight of that placid and bland


When he sits in the sun on the vicarage wall,

Ihe Oldest Inhabitant eroaks: well, Or ail.-

things. .. Can it be ,. . really! .. No. .. Yes.

io! f

On, my eye!

My mind may be wandering, but L contess

I believe it is Old Deuteronomy!”

Old Deuteronomy sits in the street,

He sits in the High Street on market day;

The bullocks may bellow, the sheep they may


But the dogs and the herdsmen will turn them


Ihe cars and the lorries run over the kerb,

And the villagers put up a notice: ROAD


So that nothing untOward may chance to


Deuteronomy’s rest when he feels so dispose

Or when he s engaged in domestic economy:

And the Oldest Inhabitant eroaks: “Well, of

al Il. .

Things… Can it be.. . really!… No.. . Yes!.

Ho! hi!

Oh, my eye!

My sight’s unreliable, but I can guess

That the cause of the trouble is Old


Old Deuteronomy lies on the floor

Of the Fox and French Horn for his afternoon

And when the men say: “Ihere’s just time for

One more,

hen the landlady from her back parlour will


And say: “New then, out you go, by the back


For Old Deuteronomy mustn t be woken-

Tl have the police if there’s any uproar”-

And out they all shufle, without a word


Ihe digestive repose of that feline s gastronom

Must never be broken, whatever befall:

And the Oldest Inhabitant croaksS: Well, of

all, .

Things.. . Can it be … really!… No!… Yesl. .

Ho! hi!

n, L


My legs may be tottery, I must go slow

And be carerul or Old Deuteronomy

Of the awefull battle of the Pekes and the


Ogether with some account of the

participation of the

Pugs and the Poms, and the intervention of

he Great


The Pekes and the Polcles, everyone knows,

Are proud and implacable passionate roes;

t is always the same, wherever one goes.

And the Pugs and the Poms, although most

people say

That they do not like fighting, yet once in a

They will now and again join in to the fray


Bark bark bark bark

Bark bark BARK BARK

Until you can hear them all over the Park.

Now on the occasion of which I shall speak

Almost nothing had happened for nearly a


And that salong time for a Pol ora Peke).

The big Police Dog was away from his beat-

I dont know the reason, but most people thin

Hed slipped into the Wellington Arms fora


And no one at all was about on the street

When a Peke and a Pollicle happened to meet

They did not advance, or exactly retreat,


But they glared at each other, and scrapea

their hind

And they started to

bark bark


Until you can hear them all over the Park.

Now the Peke, although people may say what

they peh D

s no British Dog, but a !Heathen Chinese.

And so all the Pekes, when they neard the


Some came to the window, some came to the


Ihere were surely a dozen, more likely a score

And together they started to grumble and


In their hufery-snufery Heathen Chinese.

But a terrible din is what Pollicles like,

For your Policle Dog is a dour Yorkshire tyke,

And his braw Scottish cousins are snappers

nd biter

And every dog-jack of them notable fights

And so they stepped out, with their pipers


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