Ode on the Death of a Favourite Cat Drowned in a Tub of Goldfishes

Student: Allison Dahlgren
Course: English 441: Marriage of Heaven and Hell: English Poetry from Milton to Blake
Medium: Audio - Hear this Project!

Description: My digital project is a musical interpretation of Thomas Gray’s eighteenth century poem, “Ode on the Death of a Favourite Cat Drowned in a Tub of Goldfishes.”

Upon discussing Gray’s mock elegy in our morning English discussion, my brain converted the words of the poem, against my will, to the lyrics of a country western parody that I could not get out of my head. Fortunately, my professor, Robin Valenza provided me an outlet with her assignment to make a creative adaptation of any of the poems we had read throughout the semester. With no particular affinity for country music, I employed my 16 years of classical piano training and forced my father and sister into service as backup musicians. Garage band on iTunes is also partially to blame for this piece. The poem’s light-hearted tale and its message cautioning female vanity, “Not all that tempts your wand'ring eyes/ And heedless hearts is lawful prize,/ Nor all, that glisters, gold,” lends itself perfectly to the quaint folk-country feel of early country bands like the Carter Family singers. Disclaimer: although this was a fun piece to produce, I come with full knowledge of my vocal capacities and I do not anticipate a career as a country music star.

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