Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Home Opinion Letters

Swift's raining cats and dogs

Published 13/05/2013

AS we continue to be doused in 50 shades of rain, I am reminded of one of my favourite writers, Jonathan Swift, and his musings on precipitation – Description of a City Shower, written in 1710 and published in The Tatler.

Swift begins: "Careful observers may foretell the hour (by sure prognostics) when to dread a shower" and then reveals the identify of his 18th century weather forecaster: "While rain depends, the pensive cat gives o'er her frolics and pursues her tail no more."

Swift memorably characterised the harbinger of ill-weather as "a sable cloud ... that swilled more liquor than it could contain. And like a drunkard gives it up again" and finishes with a veritable lashing of the populace below by "drown'd puppies" and "dead cats".

So now we know where "raining cats and dogs" came from.

MARK LAWLER

Belfast

Belfast Telegraph

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph