Tuesday, November 6, 2007


may have killed the cat; more likely
the cat was just unlucky, or else curious
to see what death was like, having no cause
to go on licking paws, or fathering
litter on litter of kittens, predictably.

Nevertheless, to be curious
is dangerous enough. To distrust
what is always said, what seems
to ask odd questions, interfere in dreams,
leave home, smell rats, have hunches
do not endear cats to those doggy circles
where well-smelt baskets, suitable wives, good lunches
are the order of things, and where prevails
much wagging of incurious heads and tails.
Face it. Curiosity
will not cause us to die--
only lack of it will.
Never to want to see
the other side of the hill
or that improbable country
where living is an idyll
(although a probable hell)
would kill us all.
Only the curious
have, if they live, a tale
worth telling at all.

Dogs say cats love too much, are irresponsible,
are changeable, marry too many wives,
desert their children, chill all dinner tables
with tales of their nine lives.
Well, they are lucky. Let them be
nine-lived and contradictory,
curious enough to change, prepared to pay
the cat price, which is to die
and die again and again,
each time with no less pain.
A cat minority of one
is all that can be counted on
to tell the truth. And what cats have to tell
on each return from hell
is this: that dying is what the living do,
that dying is what the loving do,
and that dead dogs are those who do not know
that dying is what, to live, each has to do.

Monday, November 5, 2007


In the narrative poem “Curiosity” by Alastair Reid, it seems as if he is giving advice on life to the reader. Reid uses figurative language here devised from the saying “curiosity killed the cat.” He speaks as if there are two kinds of characters in life, opposites naturally, like cats and dogs. The cats live care-free lives and are adventurous spirits, being irresponsible, marrying too many wives, and desert their children (Reid 749). The cat is a symbol for people who want to have fun, get more out of life, and take risks, despite knowing the consequences of chaos, death, and so on.
Meanwhile, the dogs worry about consequences, are not risk-takers, and have their lives well-kept in doggy circles where well-smelt baskets, suitable wives and good lunches are the order of things (Reid 749). The dog is also a symbol for people, who worry too much, do not take any chances, and who just play it safe. They are worried about death and other possible negative outcomes of a situation and go on watching and criticizing others, like the cat, on their “dangerous” lifestyle.
Throughout the whole poem are bits of advice being given to the reader about curiosity in life. “Curiosity will not cause us to die- only lack of it will”, and “Only the curious have, if they live, a tale worth telling at all” sways to the idea that taking chances is worth it in life. Basically, this poem is allegorical in the way that initially Reid narrates the poem about cats and dogs and their habits. However, the hidden meaning is simply understood that curiosity does not kill the cat, but that lack of it results in not getting the full potential out of life.

About Alastair Reid

-Born in 1926 in Galloway (Scotland)-He served in the Royal Navy then graduated from St. Andrews University-He went on to teach at the Sarah Lawrence College from 1951-1955-In 1959 he became staff writer for The New Yorker-He is considered a poet, author, essayist, and a translator-Because he traveled so much, he rejects the label as a “scottish" writer(bedford/St.Martin's)-He has published over 40 books(British Council)

Works Cited

Bedford/St.Martin's. Alastair Reid Curiosity. 4 November 2007.<http://www.bedfordstmartins.com/experience_literature7e/poetry/reid.htm>
British Council. Alastair Reid Biography. 5 November 2007.<http://www.contemporarywriters.com/authors/>

Reid, Alastair. "Curiosity." Perrine's Literature: Structure, Sound, and Sense. Eds. Thomas R. Arp and Greg Johnson. Boston: Thomson Wadsworth, 2006. 749-750.