Posts filed under ‘PUSSY-CAT BY THE FIRE’

PUSSY-CAT BY THE FIRE

THE ROLE OF CATS IN NURSERY RHYMES
by Sarah Hartwell

Pussy-cat sits by the fire, how can she be fair?
In walks the little dog, says: “Pussy, are you there?
How do you do, Mistress Pussy? Mistress Pussy, how d’ye do?”
“I thank you kindly, little dog, I fare as well as you!”

Possibly this documents little more than the fact that cats often got to sit by the kitchen hearth (due to keeping the kitchen mouse-free) while dogs generally lived outdoors, often tied or chained near a kennel, and were either guard dogs, herding dogs or ratting dogs. This is evidently considered unfair by the little dog and though he enquires after pussy’s health she does not invite him to join her by the fire. If anything, pussy’s reply suggests she doesn’t think she fares any better than the little dog. In other words, whatever our lot in life, we often feel that the other party is getting the better deal. In the second version, there is an element of gloating from the cat – she has a place by the fire and replies smugly to the little dog.

Pussy sits beside the fire, so pretty and so fair,
In walks the little dog – ah, pussy, are you there?
How do you do, Mistress Pussy? Mistress Pussy, how do you do?
I thank you kindly, little dog, I’m very well just now.

May 26, 2008 at 1:46 pm Leave a comment


Categories