top of page

Lu You 陸遊 (1125-1210) on his cat

陸遊《鼠屢敗吾書偶得貍奴捕殺無虚日羣鼠㡬空為賦此詩》

“My books having been destroyed by mice time after time, [I] chanced to get a cat that chases and kills [them] every day, almost extinguishing the horde; therefore [I] write this poem” by Lu You (1125-1210)


服役無人自炷

貍奴乃肯伴禪

晝眠共藉床敷暖,

夜坐同聞漏鼔

賈勇遂能空鼠穴,

策勛何止履胡

魚飧雖薄真無媿,

不向花間捕蝶[1]


No servant around, [I] lit my own incense,

Only my cat caring to keep [me] company in the chamber of musing.

Slumbering away the day [we] both cling to the warmth of the bed,

Sitting in the night [we] hearken alike to the lingering of water-clock drumbeats.

Courage in surplus,[2] [my cat] is set to empty mouse nests;

Its certified merits go beyond treading barbarians’ guts.

The fish for food is meagre but well-earned:

No bustling about among flowers, chasing butterflies.


* From Lu You 陸游 (1125-1209), Jiannan shigao jiaozhu 劍南詩稿校注 (Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1985), collated and annotated by Qian Zhonglian 錢仲聯, 65.3666.

[1] Red characters rhyme. [2] Guyong 賈勇 (literally “selling courage”) alludes to Gao Gu 高固 (fl. 589 BCE), a general of the state of Qi who led a charge into the troops of Jin and boasted about his bravery, saying that he had surplus courage for sale if anyone needed it; see Zuozhuan 左傳: https://ctext.org/chun-qiu-zuo-zhuan/cheng-gong-er-nian.



Album leaf attributed to Li Di 李迪 (1100-1197)

Image credit: National Palace Museum, Taipei


Cat and butterfly by Xugu 虛谷 (1824-1896)

Image credit: The Metropolitan Museum of Art

2 comments
bottom of page