Tuesday Poem – The Canterbury Provincial Buildings’ Cat

does not exist
but I have named him Moorhouse
with such a name a cat would be
bewhiskered and well fleshed
of serious demeanour
his time spent in reflection
beside the unlit fire
except of course at night

when Moorhouse plays the host
accepting homage variously
from those who prowl the streets
preferring his neighbours from the Avon
river rats his equal in size
and once dried off
in dignity
harking at the music of the night
as they take their partners for the first waltz

retiring somewhat later
to sup with ‘Lord’ Moorhouse at Bellamys
where mouse on the house
is provided by the toms
who hunt the cloisters
in exchange
for a few home comforts
until day breaks

and the first turn of morning key
finds our Mr Moorhouse
at rest in the stone walled chamber
and those who stoop to pay their respects
receive the merest twitch
of Moorhouse whisker
as that not yet present cat
ponders his favourite piece
of stained glass wisdom

“pitch upon the course of life
which is most excellent
and habit will render it
most delightful”


I wrote this poem before the Christchurch earthquakes and after a visit to the Canterbury Provincial Council Building.

The stained glass windows in the stone chamber with their words of wisdom were one of my favourite parts of the building. Sadly, the stone chamber collapsed in the 2011 Christchurch earthquake.

The Stone Chamber of the Canterbury Provincial Council Buildings post 2011 earthquake.
The Stone Chamber section of the Canterbury Provincial Council Buildings post 2011 earthquake.

Inside the Stone Chamber

I don’t know if there has ever been a resident cat. But I could see one quite clearly in my head. And with river rats a part of the buildings’ history it would have  been a cat with panache…and here’s where it gets uncanny… although I knew he was a Christchurch pioneer  I have just discovered that   William Moorhouse was the second Superintendent of the Canterbury Provincial Council. I didn’t know that before writing the poem. Hmm….

Thankfully the Provincial Buildings are going to be preserved. See here for a photo of the original buildings, pre earthquake, and an update on their future.

And now please return to the Tuesday Poem Hub. Read the featured poem from Editor Annabel Hawkins and also the wonderful variety of poems from other Tuesday Poets  in the left hand sidebar.