"A tabby cat was saying to a bum ": Trilussa's poem
"A tabby cat was saying to a bum ": Trilussa's poem

We do not exaggerate when we say that the Tabby cat it is one of the most famous and widespread in the world: it is so much that it is mentioned in poems by illustrious authors, such as Er cat and er dog di Trilussa (1871-1950) in which it appears from the first verse, " A tabby cat used to say to a bum …". If you are curious about the meaning of this poem and the role our feline friend plays in it, we will analyze it for you in this article.

trilussa first floor
trilussa first floor

Carlo Alberto Camillo Mariano Salustri, aka Trilussa (anagram of his surname) is remembered especially for his poems in Roman dialect, some of which had animals as protagonists. Er cat and er dog is one of them and goes like this:

A tabby cat

he said to a Poodle.

“I have no respect

nemmanco ar master, because on occasion

je scratch my hand;

but you who lick it

you get hit.

Leads you, you mock, puts you in the chain

cor snout locked up

and a circle with a stamp

on the neck bone.

According to fashion

te taja li ricci, your tail is sticking out …

What beautiful whims!

Me, look. I am a cat, I am a thief, I say:

but I don't dare

de famme 'these things."

Er Cane replied:

"But I … I'm a friend!"

tabby cat
tabby cat

The author plays on the main ones stereotypes attributed to the dog and the cat, imagining a dialogue between them on their respective qualities that, according to many, characterize them: the cat proudly defends its own freedom by human beings and boasts of not bowing to their whims, admitting indeed that he is a "thief" just as they claim; the dog, for its part, does not deny its alleged servility towards man but simply replies to behave like a "friend".

tabby cat sleeps
tabby cat sleeps

At a first reading it would be natural to interpret everything literally and consider this poem a criticism of excessive dog submission to the owner, the result of a rather one-sided concept of "friendship", to exalt the eldest independence of felines to the detriment of their image; or a controversy with the treacherous nature of the latter, who are unable to understand how "man's best friend" is willing to endure anything to stay by his human side. And we might be even more tempted to do so considering other works by the Roman poet that use similar dynamics, such as La solidarity der cat:

Er Dog said to Cat:

- If I make a pact of solidarity

we can stand up to the masters

and to all the species of animals.

- Says - Are you there? - I'm there. -

Here we go in the morning

er Dog nodded in the kitchen

and returned with a pigeon in his mouth.

- You owe me the part that touches me:

- je said er Gatto - half Armenian:

otherwise, comrade, what would solidarity consist of?

- It's right! - did that, and he divided the bird.

But in this moment er coco, who got into the game, he caught er Dog and covered him de bòtte

until nu left him with broken bones.

As soon as he saw that hustle and bustle

er Cat immediately found the door, he ran into the attic and said: - Pe '' sta vorta

I am in solidarity, yes, but I don't insist!

tabby cat
tabby cat

Here too, in fact, our feline friends are portrayed as diehard opportunists who show themselves "in solidarity" only when it is more convenient for them, and then slip away as soon as things get bad. But while it is true that these are uncomfortable and unfounded stereotypes for many cat lovers, it is also true that for Trilussa they were simply popular and easy to understand concepts through which to analyze. defects and vices typical of man himself, and maybe even launch a veiled attack on someone he couldn't outright criticize.