You may have come across the poem by Christopher Smart (1722-1771), “For I will consider my cat Jeoffry”, which begins:
For I will consider my cat Jeoffry.
For he is the servant of the living God.
Duly and daily serving him.
I hadn’t realised until now that this comes from a larger work, Jubilate Agno, written between 1758 and 1763 while Smart was confined to Bedlam for his supposed “religious mania”, and existing today as a number of fragments.
Benjamin Britten (who I’ve been listening to lots recently) set part of Jubilate Agno to music in his choral work Rejoice in the Lamb, and the following stanza lies at the heart of the piece. It also supports the view that Smart was more a visionary than simply a spinner of “Jeoffry”-ish whimsy (in this he reminds me a little of Blake):
For I am under the same accusation
With my Saviour,
For they said,
He is besides himself.
For the officers of the peace
Are at variance with me,
And the watchman smites me
With his staff.
For the silly fellow, silly fellow,
Is against me,
And belongeth neither to me
Nor to my family.
For I am in twelve hardships,
But he that was born of a virgin
Shall deliver me out of all,
Shall deliver me out of all.