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Hamlet's Cat's Soliloquy

To go outside, and there perchance to stay

Or to remain within: that is the question:

Whether 'tis better for a cat to suffer

The cuffs and buffets of inclement weather

That Nature rains on those who roam abroad,

Or take a nap upon a scrap of carpet,

And so by dozing melt the solid hours

That clog the clock's bright gears with sullen time

And stall the dinner bell. To sit, to stare

Outdoors, and by a stare to seem to state

A wish to venture forth without delay,

Then when the portal's opened up, to stand

As 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 made

As simple as the breaking of a bowl,

What cat would bear the household'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 shocks

That fur is heir to, when, of his own free will,

He might his exodus or entrance make

With a mere mitten? Who would spaniels fear,

Or strays trespassing from a neighbor's yard,

But that the dread of our unheeded cries

And scratches at a barricaded door

No claw can open up, dispels our nerve

And makes us rather bear our humans' faults

Than run away to unguessed miseries?

Thus caution doth make house cats of us all;

And thus the bristling hair of resolution

Is softened up with the pale brush of thought,

And since our choices hinge on weighty things,

We pause upon the threshold of decision.

Jack Kolb

Dept. of English, UCLA

kolb@ucla.edu

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