Monday, October 18, 2010

The Gingham Dog and the Calico Cat



One of my very favorite poems! I loved listening to my mom read this when I was a little girl.

The Duel

by Eugene Field (1850-1895)

The gingham dog and the calico cat
Side by side on the table sat;
'Twas half-past twelve, and (what do you think!)
Nor one nor t' other had slept a wink!
  The old Dutch clock and the Chinese plate
  Appeared to know as sure as fate
There was going to be a terrible spat.

  (I wasn't there; I simply state
  What was told to me by the Chinese plate!)

The gingham dog went "bow-wow-wow!"
And the calico cat replied "Mee-ow!"
The air was littered, an hour or so,
With bits of gingham and calico,
  While the old Dutch clock in the chimney-place
  Up with its hands before its face,
For it always dreaded a family row!

  (Never mind: I'm only telling you
  What the old Dutch clock declares is true!)

The Chinese plate looked very blue,
And wailed, "Oh, dear! what shall we do!"
But the gingham dog and the calico cat
Wallowed this way and tumbled that,
  Employing every tooth and claw
  In the awfullest way you ever saw---
And, oh! how the gingham and calico flew!

  (Don't fancy I exaggerate---
  I got my news from the Chinese plate!)

Next morning where the two had sat
They found no trace of dog or cat;
And some folks think unto this day
That burglars stole that pair away!
  But the truth about the cat and pup
  Is this: they ate each other up!
Now what do you really think of that!

  (The old Dutch clock it told me so,
  And that is how I came to know.)

Do you have a favorite childhood poem? I'd love to know!


  1. This is not the full poem but my mum used to say this to my son when he was smaller and he loved it so much:

    One fine day in the middle of the night,
    two dead men got up to fight.
    Back to back they faced each other,
    Drew their swords and shot each other.

    He just loved how jumbled up it all is.

    Love your poem too!

  2. I'll have to read your poem to my son! :)

  3. Thank you for this lovely depiction of 'The Duel' by Eugene Field. It is one of my favorite poems. Eugene Field spent a bit of his boyhood in St Louis and the home that he lived in is still there. You can visit the home and it includes a charming toy museum.


  4. Love the gingham dog and calico cat! Beautiful hand craftsmanship!

  5. Loved the poem! The Gingham Dog and Calico Cat are absolutely beautiful!! There's other wonderful hand embroidered towels at Kitty Cats Cupboard. I especially love the Little Dutch Boy and Girl! Beautiful work!


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