I met a rat of culture.

~Jack Prelutsky


Jack Prelutsky

Jack Prelutsky

I met a rat of culture
who was elegantly dressed
in a pair of velvet trousers
and a silver-buttoned vest,
he related ancient proverbs
and recited poetry,
he spoke a dozen languages,
eleven more than me.

That rat was perspicacious,
and had cogent things to say
on bionics, economics,
hydroponics, and ballet,
he instructed me in sculpture,
he shed light on keeping bees,
then he painted an acrylic
of an abstract view of cheese.

He had circled the equator,
he had visited the poles,
he extolled the art of sailing
while he baked assorted rolls,
he wove a woolen carpet
and he shaped a porcelain pot,
then he sang an operetta
while he danced a slow gavotte.

He was versed in jet propulsion,
an authority on trains,
all of botany and baseball
were contained within his brains,
he knew chemistry and physics,
he had taught himself to sew,
to my knowledge, there was nothing
that the rodent did not know.

He was vastly more accomplished
than the billions of his kin,
he performed a brief sonata
on a tiny violin,
but he squealed and promptly vanished
at the entrance of my cat,
for despite his erudition,
he was nothing but a rat.


8 thoughts on “I met a rat of culture.

  1. I don’t like this poem. I expected the end as soon as I read the title and it turned out to be exactly that. It reinforces the idea that we are all slaves of our birth. It dismisses social mobility and damns one to the status quo.


    1. What! Shut up!

      You are annoyed because you know that I imagine you to be that little rat, and see myself as this amazing cat who puts you in place. 😛

      On a serious note, I don’t think this children’s poem is political. Do you think I would like it if it was something that suggested no free will?
      It is just delightfully sarcastic.


      1. I don’t mind being that rat. But one big fat rat I’ll be. Not a little one.

        But in all seriousness, indoctrination starts early. This might not be outright political, but I did spot something. That’s why I didn’t like it.

        I’m not saying that you liked it because of the loaded message. Perhaps you missed it. And the message is not that there’s no free will, it’s that society is rigid and even if you work really hard for it, you’ll still be a rat at the end of the day if you’re born one.

        You see, it undermines the hard work that the rat put in to become what he is. Because the author just dismisses all of that by scaring him with his cat and thus establishes that even a well cultured rat is after all, just a rat and hence, inferior.

        Liked by 1 person

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