Five O'Clock Somewhere

Welcome to Five O'Clock Somewhere, where it doesn't matter what time zone you're in; it's five o'clock somewhere. We'll look at rural life, especially as it happens in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, cats, sailing (particularly Etchells racing yachts), and bits of grammar and Victorian poetry.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Poetry Corner: T. S. Eliot

Cats, boats, cars … the principle is the same

Much conversation this weekend has involved the naming of boats. It’s not such a trivial concept, because in naming something, we take some sort of power over it, and in some way, that which is named also takes power. Take, for example, our own boat, Syzygy. The word is an astronomical term for when three or more bodies line up perfectly, as happens during an eclipse. At the time we acquired the boat, we had been experiencing a series of events during which things did indeed line up perfectly, and since then, things have continued to line up perfectly just when we have needed them to.

Sometimes, names for boats can be related, especially in fleets. Thus, in addition to our larger boat, we have the dinghies Eclipse, Occultation, Transit, and Conjunction. Or a fleet might have a historical theme, such as being named after America’s Cup boats.

Now, as I mentioned earlier, naming a boat shouldn’t be taken lightly. It is rather an insult to the boat, for example, if its name is to be changed according to which girlfriend is on the scene at the moment. The name should be carefully thought out; even if the name sounds silly, if the name has a good reason behind it, it’s a good name for the boat.

Now, not everyone names automobiles, but cars can earn names too. We currently have Babe (the big blue ox) and El Caballero (the model name sounds better in Spanish). Other cars I know or have known have included Grane, Hotelsmobile, The Tank, and The Heap.

The ultimate guide in naming comes from T. S. Eliot, who applied naming theory to cats. In our household, we currently have Dulce and Tres, and in the past there was Shere Khan (Kipling’s a good source of names). Of course, it’s not unheard of for boats to be named after cats – take Pyewacket, for example.

The Naming of Cats

The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter,
It isn't just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I'm as mad as a hatter
When I tell you, a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES.
First of all, there's the name that the family use daily,
Such as Peter, Augustus, Alonzo or James,
Such as Victor or Jonathan, George or Bill Bailey--
All of them sensible everyday names.
There are fancier names if you think they sound sweeter,
Some for the gentlemen, some for the dames:
Such as Plato, Admetus, Electra, Demeter--
But all of them sensible everyday names.
But I tell you, a cat needs a name that's particular,
A name that's peculiar, and more dignified,
Else how can he keep up his tail perpendicular,
Or spread out his whiskers, or cherish his pride?
Of names of this kind, I can give you a quorum,
Such as Munkustrap, Quaxo, or Coricopat,
Such as Bombalurina, or else Jellylorum-
Names that never belong to more than one cat.
But above and beyond there's still one name left over,
And that is the name that you never will guess;
The name that no human research can discover--
But THE CAT HIMSELF KNOWS, and will never confess.
When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:
His ineffable effable
Deep and inscrutable singular Name.


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