Concrete Cat

“Concrete Cat” is an example of a concrete poem, a poem just giving focus to the physical picture and not the imagination, emotion, and language. This type of poem is written for eyes and not for mind and heart. It does not appeal to the heart because it doesn’t emphasize emotion and thought. It is written in the short form, which is also called “reduced language”. Words do not follow the regular pattern of the poems. Words are scattered in such a way that they form the real portrait of the thing to be expressed by the poem. The chief concern of such a poem is with the physical appearance of poetry- not primarily with ideas or emotions and also not with language as we ordinarily use.

This poem says something about a cat and its “catness” in action. Ear, eye, mouth, whisker, tail, etc. all sketched on the page denote both physical and abstract meanings. The middle stripe is the only place where language aspires toward poetry and becomes figurative. This middle stripe shows stomach part which says much about the human world and human activities.

Unlike other poems, the words are arranged in such a way that emotions are kept in a shadow and the real portrait is highlighted. From the words written in different shapes and styles, we understand the poem. The poem creates such a situation that we can see the real picture of the cat immediately after we read the poem. Outer appearances seem to be important than emotions and thoughts. Different parts of the cat’s body are presented by the use of words in their respective places.

Generally, poems are written in certain stanza and generally follow the traditional pattern. Many poems are written in an ornamental language. But, this poem doesn’t follow that pattern. This poem is made for our eyes rather than our ear. The meaning of the poem is nothing other than the portrait of the cat. The poet has used craftsmanship.

Important Questions

1. ‘Concrete Cat’ is an example of a concrete poem, how?
Ans: This poem is made for an eye. This poem doesn’t concern much with emotions. The capitalized ‘A’ in-ear is for pointed ear, ‘Y’ for eyes, ‘U’ for cat’s mouth. Similarly the words `stripes’ is for stripes of the cat and ‘upside’ mouse indicates dead mouse and the cat killed it. The poem is very fully and humorous. The poet is successful to give the concrete structure of the cat with the help of individual letters and words.

Questions for Practice

  1. How does Dorothy Charles make use of language, print, and space to describe a cat in “Concrete Cat”?
  2. What else besides that cat does “concrete Cat” describe? Why do you think the poet finds it important to describe these items?