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29 December 2016

O Have You Caught the Tiger?, a poem by A.E. Housman

O have you caught the tiger?
And can you hold him tight?
And what immortal hand or eye
Could frame his fearful symmetry?
And does he try to bite?

Yes, I have caught the tiger, 
And he was hard to catch.
O tiger, tiger, do not try
To put your tail into my eye,
And do not bite and scratch.

Yes, I have caught the tiger.
O tiger, do not bray!
And what immortal hand or eye
Could frame his fearful symmetry
I should not like to say.

And may I see the tiger?
I should indeed delight
To see so large an animal
Without a voyage to Bengal
And mind you hold him tight.

Yes, you may see the tiger;
It will amuse you much.
The tiger is, as you will find,
A creature of the feline kind.
And mind you do not touch.

And do you feed the tiger,
And do you keep him clean?
He has a less contented look
Than in the Natural History book,
And seems a trifle lean.

Oh yes, I feed the tiger,
And soon he will be plump;
I give him groundsel fresh and sweet,
And much canary-seed to eat,
And wash him at the pump.

It seems to me the tiger
Has not been lately fed,
Not for a day or two at least;
And that is why the noble beast
Has bitten off your head.


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