The Cat-Brokers of Ardabil

From An Ottoman Traveler: Selections from the Book of Travels of Evliya Celebi.

By God’s wisdom, because cats in Ardabil have short lives, there are very many mice, more than in other regions. The mice chew up the people’s clothing — their woolen cloaks, for example. So this city has a royal auction for hirre, i.e. gurbe, i.e. kutta — i.e. cats. There are professional cat-brokers, much in demand, who sell cats in cages. The Divrigi cat is a particular favorite, fetching a price of up to 100 gurus; still, it does not live long here. When the brokers cry their wares, this is the patter they sing, in a loud voice, in the beyati mode:

“You who seek a feline,
A cat to hunt your mice:
To rats it makes a beeline,
but otherwise it’s nice;
An enemy to rodents,
And yet it’s not a thief;
A pet to share your grief.”

Read more about Ardabil, its famous carpets, and Divrigi.

How he would like to be kissed

A poem by Paul Fleming, whose portrait is my public face.

How he would like to be kissed

Nowhere but on the mouth,
Then it sinks to the bottom of the heart
Not too freely, not too forced,
Not with nasty, stinking tongues.

Not too little, not too much!
Or both will be just childish things.
Not too loud, and not too quiet,
Both in measure is the right way.

Not too close, not too far.
This brings sorrow, that one woe.
Not too dry, not too moist,
Like Adonis gave to Venus.

Not too hard, not too soft.
Sometimes together, sometimes not together.
Not too slowly, not too fast.
Not without variety in place.

Half biting, half brushed.
Half lip dipped in lip.
Not without variety in time.
More alone than among people.

May everyone kiss now
As he knows, wants, should and can.
Only I and my dearest know
How we should kiss each other aright.