Ode on the Death of a Favourite Cat, Drowned in a Tub of Gold Fishes

by Thomas Gray
Start Free Trial

Characters

Download PDF Print Page Citation Share Link

Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 195

The primary character in this poem is the favorite cat of the title. The speaker is obviously extremely fond of her female cat, using human terms such as "presumptuous maid" to describe her and praising her "velvet" paws and tabby fur. The cat is unable to resist the fish she sees swimming in the pond; she falls in, and although she emerges eight times, mewing to be helped, there is no saving her—she has reached for "gold" which is not hers to take, and as such succumbs to a watery fate in the pond. In the end, the poor cat, the speaker's "nymph," is drowned.

Illustration of PDF document

Download Ode on the Death of a Favourite Cat, Drowned in a Tub of Gold Fishes Study Guide

Subscribe Now

The only other characters in the poem, aside from the narrator—who appears to have observed this situation, but does not actually place himself within the tableau he describes—are the fish themselves. The speaker describes them as "genii" in a stream, with "scaly armor" which glistens like gold under the water. The appeal of the fish proves beyond the cat's power to resist.

The speaker also mentions, in passing, Tom and Susan, who do not come to the cat's aid, but no further information is given about them.

Unlock This Study Guide Now

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-hour free trial
Previous

Analysis

Next

Quotes