The Galloping Cat

by STEVIE SMITH (1902-1971)

Oh I am a cat that likes to
Gallop about doing good
So
One day when I was
Galloping about doing good, I saw
A figure in the path; I said
Get off! (Be-
cause
I am a cat that likes to
Gallop about doing good)

But he did not move, instead
He raised his hand as if
To land me a cuff
So I made to dodge so as to
Prevent him bringing it orf,
Un-for-tune-ately I slid
On a banana skin
Some Ass had left instead
Of putting in the bin. So
His hand caught me on the cheek
I tried
To lay his arm open from wrist to elbow
With my sharp teeth
Because I am
A cat that likes to gallop about doing good.
Would you believe it?
He wasn’t there
My teeth met nothing but air,
But a Voice said: Poor Cat,
(Meaning me) and a soft stroke
Came on me head
Since when
I have been bald.
I regard myself as
A martyr to doing good

Also I heard a swoosh
As of wings, and saw
A halo shining at the height of
Mrs Gubbins’s backyard fence,
So I thought: What’s the good
Of galloping about doing good
When angels stand in the path
And do not do as they should
Such as having an arm to be bitten off
All the same I
Intend to go on being
A cat that likes to
Gallop about doing good
So
Now with my bald head I go,
Chopping the untidy flowers down, to
and fro,
An’ scooping up the grass to show
Underneath
The cinder path of wrath
Ha ha ha ha, ho,
Angels aren’t the only ones who do
not know
What’s what and that
Galloping about doing good
Is a full time job
That needs
An experienced eye of earthly
Sharpness, worth I dare say
(if you’ll forgive a personal note)
A good deal more
Than all that skyey stuff
Of angels that make so bold as
To pity a cat like me that
Gallops about doing good.

Stevie Smith

Stevie Smith was born in Hull in September 1902, the second daughter of Ethel and Charles Smith. She was christened Florence Margaret, but always called Peggy by the family. She acquired the name Stevie as a young woman when she was riding in the park with a friend who said that she reminded him of the jockey, Steve Donaghue. Read entire bio

Stevie Smith Contemporaries
Pablo Neruda
Langston Hughes
Ogden Nash

Share