On a Favorite Cat Drowned in a Tub of Goldfishes

by Thomas Gray

'Twas on a lofty vase's side
Where China's gayest art had dyed
The azure flowers that blow,
Demurest of the tabby kind,
The pensive Selima, reclined,
Gazed on the lake below.
Her conscious tail her joy declared:
The fair, round face, the snowy beard,
The velvet of her paws,
Her coat that with the tortoise vies,
Her ears of jet, and emerald eyes,—
She saw, and purred applause.
Still had she gazed, but 'midst the tide
Two angel forms were seen to glide,
The Genii of the stream:
Their scaly armor's Tyrian hue,
Through richest purple, to the view
Betrayed a golden gleam.
The hapless Nymph with wonder saw:
A whisker first, and then a claw,
With many an ardent wish,
She stretched, in vain, to reach the prize,—
What female heart can gold despise?
What cat's averse to fish?
Presumptuous maid! with looks intent,
Again she stretched, again she bent,
Nor knew the gulf between,—
Malignant Fate sat by and smiled,—
The slippery verge her feet beguiled;
She tumbled headlong in!
Eight times emerging from the flood,
She mewed to every watery god
Some speedy aid to send:
No Dolphin came, no Nereid stirred,
Nor cruel Tom nor Susan heard,—
A favorite has no friend!
From hence, ye Beauties! undeceived,
Know one false step is ne'er retrieved,
And be with caution bold:
Not all that tempts your wandering eyes
And heedless hearts is lawful prize,
Nor all that glitters gold!