A Child's Nightmare Poem by Robert Graves

A Child's Nightmare

Rating: 2.8


Through long nursery nights he stood
By my bed unwearying,
Loomed gigantic, formless, queer,
Purring in my haunted ear
That same hideous nightmare thing,
Talking, as he lapped my blood,
In a voice cruel and flat,
Saying for ever, "Cat! ... Cat! ... Cat!..."

That one word was all he said,
That one word through all my sleep,
In monotonous mock despair.
Nonsense may be light as air,
But there's Nonsense that can keep
Horror bristling round the head,
When a voice cruel and flat
Says for ever, "Cat! ... Cat! ... Cat!..."

He had faded, he was gone
Years ago with Nursery Land,
When he leapt on me again
From the clank of a night train,
Overpowered me foot and head,
Lapped my blood, while on and on
The old voice cruel and flat
Says for ever, "Cat! ... Cat! ... Cat!..."

Morphia drowsed, again I lay
In a crater by High Wood:
He was there with straddling legs,
Staring eyes as big as eggs,
Purring as he lapped my blood,
His black bulk darkening the day,
With a voice cruel and flat,
"Cat! ... Cat! ... Cat! ... Cat!..." he said, "Cat! ... Cat!..."

When I'm shot through heart and head,
And there's no choice but to die,
The last word I'll hear, no doubt,
Won't be "Charge!" or "Bomb them out!"
Nor the stretcher-bearer's cry,
"Let that body be, he's dead!"
But a voice cruel and flat
Saying for ever, "Cat! ... Cat! ... Cat!"

COMMENTS OF THE POEM

Martin caught the obvious subtext, used to depict the horror of what we now call PTSD. One must assess the meaning, and the etymology, of the word " nursery" to catch the reference to the writer's convalescence in a military hospital, or the basic story of a wounded soldier haunted by the " Cat! ... Cat! ... Cat! " of hostile gunfire. Apropos to Kat's silly comments, the " Cat! ' of this poem is indeed the poet's worst nightmare...

4 1 Reply
Lorenzicus 13 May 2020

Thank you for this comment! You gave me ideas for an assessment I have for school!

0 0 Reply
Kat Renamy 12 January 2012

i hate you -.- when i was a baby i loved cats and my name IS Kat and i am not a little kids night mare

54 35 Reply
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Robert Graves

Robert Graves

London / England
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