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The Cat And The Moon Analysis

Author: poem of William Butler Yeats Type: poem Views: 20

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The cat went here and there

And the moon spun round like a top,

And the nearest kin of the moon,

The creeping cat, looked up.

Black Minnaloushe stared at the moon,

For, wander and wail as he would,

The pure cold light in the sky

Troubled his animal blood.

Minnaloushe runs in the grass

Lifting his delicate feet.

Do you dance, Minnaloushe, do you dance?

When two close kindred meet.

What better than call a dance?

Maybe the moon may learn,

Tired of that courtly fashion,

A new dance turn.

Minnaloushe creeps through the grass

From moonlit place to place,

The sacred moon overhead

Has taken a new phase.

Does Minnaloushe know that his pupils

Will pass from change to change,

And that from round to crescent,

From crescent to round they range?

Minnaloushe creeps through the grass

Alone, important and wise,

And lifts to the changing moon

His changing eyes.


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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||

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Minnaloushe: Maud Gonne's daughter's cat. Yeats had also proposed to her after being rejected by Muad four times.

| Posted on 2015-01-27 | by a guest

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Minnaloushe in German is roughly translated into 'protective light'. And may be a reference to the persona of the moon...

| Posted on 2015-01-11 | by a guest

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The line "what better than to call a dance" is clearly to subtly show his contempt for 'nigs' as he fondly called them. Yeats' dislike of blacks influences his poetry hugely.

| Posted on 2013-11-12 | by a guest

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Also structurally the poem consists of 28 lines representing the 28 phases of the moon.

| Posted on 2013-05-16 | by a guest

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Explore Yeats\' presentation of reciprocal relationships in \'The Cat and the Moon\'.
\'The Cat and the Moon\' was written in 1919, when Yeats was in the middle of his 50s. He and Maud Gonne had finally consummated their relationship 11 years earlier, in 1908, and even though she had rejected his marriage proposals 5 times and written to him stating their relationship could not continue after their night of physical intimacy, and Yeats was now married to Georgie Hyde-Lees, this poem can still be interpreted to be about Yeats relationship with her. It is generally accepted that the Cat is a metaphor for Yeats and the Moon, as is usual in literature, represents feminintity, the woman Maud Gonne. Critics have suggested that a reason for Yeats choice to represent Maud as the Moon is because, as a revolutionary, she travelled frequently and was never in a stable state for long. This is much like how the moon is never constant - it is always changing with its 28 day cycle.
Yeats frequently brings up the idea of two individuals in the poem; the two participants in a reciprocal relationship. An example of this can be seen in \'When two close kindred meet\'. This line is repeated, creating an identical couple of lines, which mimetically enhances the idea of the \'close kindred\' nature of the parties involved in the relationship. The persons are different, they compliment each other in their relationship. This can be seen by Yeats\' contrast of the \'pure\' white moon with \'Black Minnalousche\', the cat. This may be a reference to the taoist principle of \'ying and yang\', which describes the opposite yet interconnected and interdependant forces of the natural world. It describes nature in its reciprocal relationships, for example, the forces of dark and light (or black and white as in the poem) but also the genders: female and male. Here then, Yeats may be highlighting the idea of reciprocal relationships, of forces that are interweaved and compliment each other.
The metrical pattern seems to conform to this idea of reciprocal relationships as well, for it is in triameter, which perhaps is like a triple time dance (like a Waltz). This idea of animation and dance is continued in lines such as \'Lifting his delicate feet\', where the adjective \'delicate\' seems to give a sense of agility and posesses a dance-like quality due to its polysyllabic nature. The significance of a dance like a Waltz is that to perform it you need two members who work together, who compliment each other\'s movements. Thus Yeats is maybe using the idea of such dancing as an allegory for reciprocal relationships.This idea is furthered in line 11, where the two repeated \'Do you dance\' rhetorical questions are placed on strong metrical beats one and three. Here the phrases also surround the word \'Minnalousche\', who may represent Yeats, and so lend themselves to the idea that the Moon is dancing around the cat, and that he is absorbed in their collaborative dance. The enjambment in \'The cat went here and there and the moon spun round like a top and the nearest kin of the moon the creeping cat, looked up\' may also add to this idea of dancing, as it accelerates the lines and gives them a pulsing, rhythmic, dance-like feel.
Yeats\' use of celestial diction, for example, \'crescent\' in the context of the cat\'s \'changing eyes\' marks a similarity between both persons; just as the moon changes to a cresecent shape during its cycle, so too the eyes of the cat. He compliments the way the moon changes, and in this way perhaps Yeats is hinting at the nature of a reciprocal relationship, where one party compliments the other.
However, Yeats also presents the idea of relationships that are not necessarily reciprocal; feelings that are unrequited, relationships that are imperfect. The fact that there is no set perfect rhyme scheme perhaps suggests an underlying imperfection in the poem, much like, as Yeats knows first hand, imperfection can be present in relationships when one party doesn\'t compliment another (i.e unrequited love). In some of the rhymes themselves we can see a furthering of this idea. For example, the half-rhyme of the verb \'would\' and noun \'blood\' may hint at imperfection in relationships, much like the imperfection in the rhyme.
The break in the metrical pattern in \'A new dance turn\', where two stressed beats are present as opposed to three perhaps mimetically enhances the idea of a new dance step. Maybe (if we think of dancing as representing two persons complimenting each other in a relationship as was earlier suggested), \'learning\' a \'new dance turn\' refers to meeting a new individual, moving on to another love. Perhaps then Yeats is suggesting the current persons no longer compliment each other, that their relationship is not reciprocal, like the relationship between himself and Maud Gonne. At any rate, the break in the metrical further indicates this idea of imperfection.

| Posted on 2013-03-20 | by a guest

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do you dance minnaloushe do you dance? rhetorical, one loves like hyeats should only dance with each other, and they dont

| Posted on 2012-05-15 | by a guest

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The cat and the moon. The moon represents Maud Gonne and the Cat is Yeats himself. I think this poem is about Yeats looking up to Maud as a lost love and also a muse for his poetry. They clearly contrast - the moon is white and the cat is black. And the moon is above the cat \"the creeping cat looked up\" showing how Yeats looks up to Maud gonne (as a muse of simply in awe of her)
\"Do you dance minnaloushe do you dance?\" this could be saying how does the cat dance as an almost ritual towards her, or could be highlighting the fact that the act of dancing is usually associated with lovers in pairs and they are both alone. He wants maud to learn something from him
there are religious references as seen in his other poems about Maud \"The sacred moon overhead\" which also emphasise his awe for her but how he looks up to her as having grace. (as seen in broken dreams)
The cat follows the moon around \"Minnaloushe creeps through the grass from moonlit place to place\" always trying to stay within the light of the moon (inspiration for his art)
The cat and the moon are both alone. \"will pass from change to change, and that from round to crescent, from crescent to round they range?\" both of them have similarities in that the cats eyes change from crescents to pupils, and the moon changes over the year from round to crescent. This is showing how they change continuously. At the end of the poem Yeats is showing how the Cat (himself) no longer relies on Maud Gonne the moon, and no longer yearns to be with the moon. \"alone, important and wise\" Acceptance.
\"and lifts to the changing moon his changing eyes\" Could be linked to them both getting old (again, linked to broken dreams where Maud Gonne is no longer young and beautiful and he feels he has missed her prime and regrets the potential memories he never had with her) as they get older they both change and so do their ideals. Another way of thinking of it is that as Maud gonne changed, the moon, so does yeats the cat because he is always trying to fit in with her.

| Posted on 2012-05-14 | by a guest

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\'The cat and the Moon\' is a poem that was written for Maud Gonne\'s daughter and its intention is ambiguous. The cat is percieved to worship and idolise the moon which is seen to be sacred in Celtic beliefs; a reoccuring theme in Yeats\' poems. The imagery of a cat represents Yeats as he is left alone while the moon, Maud Gonne, is changing when perhaps Yeats wants their relationship to remain the same even though she does not appear to be tangible, as the extended methaphore of the Cat and Moon\'s relationship is explored further.

| Posted on 2012-05-09 | by a guest

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The Cat and the Moon can be interpreted in many ways, perhaps his undying love for Maud Gonne can be seen through the eternal moonlight which is bathed upon the cat.
Its ever changing nature could also symbolize the forever evolving mind, and loves, perhaps that of Maud Gonne\'s? It is said that the two did have a brief love affair after all...
The new phases of the moon, it \"spun\" like a gyre- a symbol Yeat\'s uses in a number of his poems.
But that\'s just how I interpret it, there are many other ways to see this poem.

| Posted on 2012-02-27 | by a guest

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In my opinion, this poem is about Yeats and his muse, Maude. The moon is intrigued by the cat, however, it cannot stay constant and therefore the cat simply loses interest. There is also a similar theme of loneliness, both the moon and the cat are alone. There is also a contrast of colours, the white moon and the black cat.

| Posted on 2011-09-07 | by a guest

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Minnaloushe belonged to Maud Gonne\'s daughter Iseult Gonne, who Yeats also proposed to after been refused twice by Maud...

| Posted on 2010-12-13 | by a guest

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Maude Gonne was Yeat\'s unrequited love and owner of a cat named Minnaloushe. The poem shows how Yeats, the moon, was unable to change for Maude, the cat, so she refused to marry him.

| Posted on 2010-11-25 | by a guest

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I am unsure as to the origin of the name Minnaloushe, but Maud Gonne was Yeats' life long obsession, and muse. Yeats was always enthralled by mysticism throughout his life, and that would explain the significance of the moon in this poem.

| Posted on 2009-01-21 | by a guest

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Someone needs to read and interperate this poem The Cat And The Moon from W.B. Yeats. I think it is showing his affection for cats, and the cat who is his protagonist was said to belong to a lady named Maude Gonne.

| Posted on 2008-04-17 | by a guest

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Someone needs to read and interperate this poem The Cat And The Moon fom W.B. Yeats. I think it is showing his affection for cats, and the cat who is his protagonist was said to belong to a lady named Maude Gonne.

| Posted on 2008-04-17 | by a guest

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