Macavity’s a Mystery Cat: he’s called the Hidden Paw–
For he’s the master criminal who can defy the Law.
He’s the bafflement of Scotland Yard, the Flying Squad’s despair:
For when they reach the scene of crime–Macavity’s not there!

Macavity, Macavity, there’s no on like Macavity,
He’s broken every human law, he breaks the law of gravity.
His powers of levitation would make a fakir stare,
And when you reach the scene of crime–Macavity’s not there!
You may seek him in the basement, you may look up in the air–
But I tell you once and once again, Macavity’s not there!

Macavity’s a ginger cat, he’s very tall and thin;
You would know him if you saw him, for his eyes are sunken in.
His brow is deeply lined with thought, his head is highly doomed;
His coat is dusty from neglect, his whiskers are uncombed.
He sways his head from side to side, with movements like a snake;
And when you think he’s half asleep, he’s always wide awake.

Macavity, Macavity, there’s no one like Macavity,
For he’s a fiend in feline shape, a monster of depravity.
You may meet him in a by-street, you may see him in the square–
But when a crime’s discovered, then Macavity’s not there!

He’s outwardly respectable. (They say he cheats at cards.)
And his footprints are not found in any file of Scotland Yard’s.
And when the larder’s looted, or the jewel-case is rifled,
Or when the milk is missing, or another Peke’s been stifled,
Or the greenhouse glass is broken, and the trellis past repair–
Ay, there’s the wonder of the thing! Macavity’s not there!

And when the Foreign Office finds a Treaty’s gone astray,
Or the Admiralty lose some plans and drawings by the way,
There may be a scap of paper in the hall or on the stair–
But it’s useless of investigate–Macavity’s not there!
And when the loss has been disclosed, the Secret Service say:
“It must have been Macavity!”–but he’s a mile away.
You’ll be sure to find him resting, or a-licking of his thumbs,
Or engaged in doing complicated long division sums.

Macavity, Macavity, there’s no one like Macacity,
There never was a Cat of such deceitfulness and suavity.
He always has an alibit, or one or two to spare:
And whatever time the deed took place–MACAVITY WASN’T THERE!
And they say that all the Cats whose wicked deeds are widely known
(I might mention Mungojerrie, I might mention Griddlebone)
Are nothing more than agents for the Cat who all the time
Just controls their operations: the Napoleon of Crime!

Analysis, meaning and summary of T.S. Eliot's poem Macavity: The Mystery Cat

29 Comments

  1. KamLun Chongthu, Sirhima says:

    How great is Macavity- a cat depicting criminals of today!

  2. Sanya says:

    Its a very good poem epsecially while doing Speech & Drama.Its very expressive & one can enact each stanza’s.This poem is very funny& makes studying English a real pleasure.I’m in class V& I’m studying this poem right now.

  3. Betty says:

    Ha Ha Bobby from the US are you trying to be funny? Where do you think the Musical Cats got there song from? The poet T.S.Eliot was born 1888-1965 and wrote Macavity in the 30’s. The play Cats was created in 1981 by Andrew Lloyd Webber and was based on Eliots book ‘Old Possums book of Practical Cats’ Therefore Macavity was and always will be originally a T.S.Eliot poem. Don’t be so thick.

  4. Bobby says:

    Hi,
    This poem is under copyright as a song from the Broadway musical CATS. If i am not mistaken, all you did sir was take away a verse and add your own. I would take this poem off before any of the creators of CATS see it. Looking at an official government website, you can be placed in prison for a minimum of 25 years for copyright felony. You did not write his poem because Andrew Lloyd Webber, who was the son of William Lloyd Webber, therefore neither of them were born nor alive at the time of computers to post this. I might get your name and report you to the National Copyright Police.

  5. Nandita Mishra says:

    Macavity is one of the most challenging poems to teach in class. The use of allusions and humuour makes the ironyt very meaningful for all. A thoroughly enjoyable experience.

  6. Nandita Mishra says:

    Macavity is one of the most challenging poems to teach in class. The use of allusions and humour makes the irony very meaningful for all. A thoroughly enjoyable experience.

  7. Mione says:

    This Poem is extremely humourous as there is use of hyperbole. The poet tells us about how macavity is very dangerous and hard to catch(use of repetition, “macavity’s not there”, to emphasise difficulty in the capture of Macavity). Yet, later in stanza 5, “Or when the milk is missing, or another Peke’s been stifled,
    Or the greenhouse glass is broken, and the trellis past repair–” shows that the crimes were childish and sort of low. Committment of low crime yet, the poet exagerates that he is the napoleon of crime and that he is dangerous. This adds humour to the poem- as it is – the purpose of hyperbole.

  8. emilia says:

    Gah!! this poem is SOOOO funny…i have a final covering this tomm!

  9. Meline says:

    This is a song that my sister did in her performance Night On Broadway!!!

  10. nanci says:

    I used this in school. The verse that describes Macavity is very vivid. The students drew pictures depicting the size, shape, color ect. It is a great example of imagery.

  11. Marilyn Penner says:

    McCavity is the feline incarnation of Professor James Moriarty, the Napoleon of Crime in the Sherlock Holmes stories of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
    Both McCavity and Moriarty have high domed foreheads. Their heads oscillate like a snake’s.
    Both are masters of complicated long division sums and other aspects of mathematics.
    Both names are Irish.
    Moriarty’s criminal activity is not suspected by Scotland Yard, therefore, like McCavitiy’s, his fingerprints aren’t in their files.
    Moriarty and McCavity have minions who do the work and are known to Scotland Yard – so when they reach the scene of crime, McCavity and Moriarty aren’t there!

  12. Gigars,John says:

    I like this poem alot because i have four naghty kittens.

  13. max says:

    jayant pindolia he cant write any more poems because he is dead

  14. Chirag VijayVargiya says:

    The lighter side of Eliot is revealed in this poem. The central theme of the poem is “an animal creature wonderfully human”. The cats description in human terms is certainly the main source of humour in the poem. The poet’s fancy plays merrily round this central theme to bring to life a dozen different kinds of cats, all corresponding to diverse human types, and belonging to different social milieux. The charm of Macavity: The Mystery Cat comes from its neat rhymes and galloping rythym as well as the comic effect of a master-criminal who is in fact a cat. ‘Macavity’ naturally divides itself into two parts: ‘Mac (son) and ‘cavity (hole. Cavity is significant when we realize that Macavity specializes in doing the vanishing trick. Further, ‘cavity’ carries with it the suggestion of the Latin word ‘cave’ meaning ‘beware’. In the line `It must have been Macavity!’ feline and human logic have been deliberately mixed up for humorous effect.

  15. Danielle says:

    I enjoyed this poem the most out of T.S. Eliot’s “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” because Macavity it the King Pin. I also enjoy the repetitive line “macavity’s not there”!

  16. Rebel_Chick901 says:

    I first heard this poem when i was only 4, my mum read it to me for a bedtime story. I loved it and I still do even after 10 yrs.

  17. Zumri says:

    T.S. Elliot being a great poet of such sarcasm involved issues has contributed great services in pointing out things that may seem to be Humorous in one end and sarcasm in the other. These issues are clearly depicted by the quotations of institutions such as “Scotland Yard” and their inability to track down the convict. Macavity is a cat empowered with capabilities of levitating causing the theory of Gravity to transform into a flaw. Macavity although once being a Cat later seems to be a Human, through involving in greater crimes that may almost be a possibility of action conducted by only-human. The cat being as powerful as the great Napoleon has a few gang mates who are later named as Mungojerrie and Griddlebone. These crooked Cats are great convicts causing mass destruction in their vicinity. Yet the Scotland Yard couldn’t detect the convicts and take legitimate action against them. The evident against all Cats confessed for the illegitimate doings are vanished along with them So Macavity has always been a mastermind behind the scene of many ill-conducts. Yet-for-all, Macavity is a great poem for kids and literature students and has the ability to create enthusiasm in them.

  18. laurie says:

    I have loved this poem since I was 8. Whenever we had to pick a poem to read, I always chose this one and everybody moaned because it was too long and they wanted to go to break. *sigh*

  19. gema says:

    me ha gustado mucho este poema!!! realmente he disfrutado leyendolo. i like it very much

  20. MEGAN says:

    THIS POEM IS SUPERBE!.I AM DOING IT AT SCHOOL AND TOMORROW I HAVE IT FOR MY LITERATURE EXAM!.HOWEVER I ENJOY STUDDYING IT!!

  21. Rohan Sampath says:

    I think MAcavity is a wonderful poem with excellent English. I wouldn’t mind reading evena thosand more like this poem

  22. Tim Heigh says:

    in the last stanza first line u spelled macavity like this macacity

  23. sarah says:

    This poem is really gerat!!! i love Eliot’s work!!

  24. Jayant Pindolia says:

    i adore this poem and every year we have a competition for the best clear speaker, i always choose this one and i always win. Please write some more exquisite poems like this one T.S Eliot. I’ll love to read them

  25. emma mcdaid says:

    this is a fantastic poem, probably the best in ‘possum’s book of practical cats’ and was always my favourite as a kid (though no longer remember it off by heart) – although I ended up calling my cat Bill Bailey from ‘the naming of cats’ instead of macavity – because he wasn’t ginger or tall and thin! xx

  26. Amy says:

    My brother loved this poem so much, that we have a cat at home named Macavity. He really is a trouble maker and “Mystery Cat”

  27. Shreesh says:

    The poem was a comment on the prevailing law and order in certain societies of London and Eliot imbued it with a lot of sarcasm against the establishment. If anyone knows more about it, post your opinion here and I would come back to read it.

  28. selina says:

    i think your poem is the best

  29. jacki hye says:

    I think that macavity is awesome

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