The Rum Tum Tugger Poem by T.S Eliot: Summary, Explanation, Poetic Devices

Hey there, dear reader! Here, we’ll dive into the world of a very special cat named Rum Tum Tugger, the star of a poem ‘The Rum Tum Tugger’ by T.S. Eliot. Here you would find a summary, stanza wise explanation with glossary and some major poetic devices used in the poem. “The Rum Tum Tugger” is a whimsical poem that captures the capricious and contrary nature of the curious cat, using repetition and irony to create a light-hearted atmosphere.


“The Rum Tum Tugger” by T.S. Eliot is a playful and whimsical poem that introduces a character named Rum Tum Tugger, a curious and unpredictable cat. The poem describes the cat’s peculiar preferences and behaviour, highlighting his tendency to change his mind frequently. Rum Tum Tugger is portrayed as a creature of habit with a penchant for doing the opposite of what is expected. He is described as a cat who, when given a choice, prefers the unconventional and enjoys creating chaos. The speaker emphasizes the cat’s unique and unchangeable nature, suggesting that there’s no use in trying to understand or control him. The poem is characterized by its repetitive structure, rhyming scheme, and a light-hearted tone that captures the essence of the Rum Tum Tugger’s whimsical personality.

  • The poem is a playful and humorous portrait of a mischievous and unpredictable cat.
  • It uses simple language and rhyme to make it enjoyable for young readers.
  • The repeated refrain emphasizes the Rum Tum Tugger’s unique personality and reminds us that he’s just being himself, even if it’s a bit frustrating sometimes!

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The Rum Tum Tugger: Stanza Wise Explanation

Rum Tum Tugger is a one-of-a-kind cat, full of quirks and surprises. He may be a bit of a grump and a troublemaker, but he’s also funny, independent, and knows how to enjoy life on his own terms. Just remember, if you ever meet a cat like Rum Tum Tugger, be prepared for anything! Let’s learn and enjoy the poetry explanation stanza wise.

Stanza 1:


  • Curious: Inquisitive and eager for new experiences, while “beast” hints at a wilder, more unpredictable nature. – Rum Tum Tugger is shown as an interesting and potentially puzzling character.
  • Pheasant: A type of bird (तीतर), often hunted for food.
  • Grouse: Another type of bird, similar to a pheasant.
  • Flat: An apartment, typically one that is part of a larger building.


  • The Rum Tum Tugger is described as a curious cat with unpredictable preferences. No matter what you offer him, he wants something else.

This first part introduces us to Rum Tum Tugger, a cat who’s, well, a bit picky! If you give him pheasant, he wants grouse. If you give him a house, he wants a flat. And guess what? If you give him a flat, he wants a house again! Even when it comes to mice and rats, he can’t make up his mind. He’s a curious cat, alright, and the speaker isn’t even surprised anymore. He just says, “He will do as he do do, and there’s no doing anything about it!”

This shows that he’s a bit of a contrarian and enjoys chasing after whatever he can’t have.

Poetic Devices:

  • This stanza uses hyperbole (exaggeration) to show how picky and unpredictable Rum Tum Tugger is.
  • The repetition (Anaphora) of “If you…” and “then he’d rather…” emphasizes contrarian and indecisive nature of the Rum Tum Tugger.

The repeated lines “For he will do / As he do do / And there’s no doing anything about it!” emphasize his stubborn and independent nature.

  • Alliteration: a poetic device that involves the repetition of initial consonant sounds in neighboring words. Example: The repeated “t” sound in “Tum Tugger” creates a rhythmic and musical quality.

Stanza 2:


  • Bore: Someone or something dull and uninteresting.
  • Wrong side of every door: Suggesting that he is never satisfied with his current location.
  • Get about: Move around or travel.
  • Bureau: A piece of furniture with drawers for storing clothes.
  • Bureau drawer: A drawer in a chest of drawers, used for storage.
  • Makes such a fuss: Creates a commotion or disturbance.


  • The Rum Tum Tugger is portrayed as annoying and restless. He always wants what he doesn’t have.

Rum Tum Tugger seems like a bit of a grump too. If you let him in, he wants to be out. And if he’s out, he wants to be in! He’s never happy where he is, always on the wrong side of the door. And his favourite place to nap? A tiny drawer! But don’t you dare shut him in, because he’ll make a big fuss to get out.

  • This stanza describes the Rum Tum Tugger as restless and always wanting to be somewhere else.
  • He’s never content with where he is, whether it’s inside or outside, and constantly wants to go the opposite direction.
  • He even likes to lie in drawers, but then gets upset when he can’t get out.
  • This shows that he’s a bit of a drama king and enjoys making a fuss.

Poetic Devices:

  • This stanza uses personification (giving human qualities to animals) to show how Rum Tum Tugger behaves like a grumpy child. The lines “He’s always on the wrong side of every door” and “He makes such a fuss if he can’t get out” paint a picture of his restlessness and need for control.

(“When you let him in, then he wants to be out”), paradox (“He’s always on the wrong side of every door”).

  • Irony: The cat is described as a “terrible bore,” but his behaviour suggests the opposite (playful nature of most cats).

Stanza 3:


  • Curious Cat: Emphasizing the cat’s inquisitive and unpredictable nature.
  • Do do: A colloquial way of saying “does.” Emphasizing the cat’s behaviour that cannot be changed.


  • Reiteration that the Rum Tum Tugger is indeed a curious cat, and there’s no use doubting it. He acts as he pleases. The repetition of “And there isn’t any use for you to doubt it” reinforces the speaker’s certainty about the cat’s curious nature.

Remember how the speaker said there’s no point in arguing with Rum Tum Tugger? He’ll do whatever he wants, and that’s that! This stanza repeats that message, just in case we forgot i.e. it’s not worth trying to change him or figure him out, because he’ll always do what he wants.

  • Refrain: This stanza is a refrain, repeating that the Rum Tum Tugger is a curious and unpredictable cat and there’s no changing his ways.
  • Repetition (epiphora): The repetition of “do” emphasizes the cat’s consistent and unchangeable behaviour.
  • Alliteration: example- Curious Cat

Stanza 4:


  • Curious beast: This phrase introduces the Rum Tum Tugger as an interesting and potentially puzzling character. “Curious” suggests he’s inquisitive and eager for new experiences, while “beast” hints at a wilder, more unpredictable nature.
  • Disobliging: This suggests the Rum Tum Tugger goes against what others expect or desire. He’s not the kind to please others easily.
  • Habit: This reinforces the idea that his disobliging ways are not just occasional, but a consistent part of his personality.
  • Feast: This implies a grand and abundant meal, highlighting the Rum Tum Tugger’s desire for something beyond the ordinary.
  • Rabbit: This represents a more standard, practical offering compared to a feast.
  • Sniffs and sneers: This describes a dismissive and disdainful reaction, showing the Rum Tum Tugger’s picky nature.
  • Finds for himself: This emphasizes his independence and self-reliance, suggesting he prefers things obtained on his own terms.


  • The cat’s contrary behaviour is described in more detail, emphasizing his habits of wanting more and being selective.

This Rum Tum Tugger is not just picky, he’s also a bit of a snob! If you offer him fish, he wants a feast. If there’s no feast, he won’t even touch rabbit. And cream? Don’t even bother. He only likes what he finds himself, even if it means getting into trouble.

  • This stanza highlights the Rum Tum Tugger’s picky eating habits and independent personality.
  • He always wants more than what he’s given, and if he doesn’t get it his way, he won’t eat at all.
  • This shows that he’s a bit of a spoiled brat and enjoys getting his way.
  • His picky nature and preference for self-discovery further contribute to his intriguing personality.

Poetic Devices:

  • Imagery: This stanza uses imagery (descriptive language) to show Rum Tum Tugger’s picky eating habits. The words “feast” and “rabbit” create a contrast between his desired and actual meals. The line “He only likes what he finds for himself” highlights his independent spirit.
  • Hyperbole: Describing the cat’s ways as a “matter of habit” exaggerates the consistent nature of his behaviour.
  • Irony: The cat won’t eat rabbit when there’s no fish, indicating his particular preferences.
  • Contrast: The contrast between the cat wanting a feast but refusing rabbit adds to the humour.
  • Alliteration: The repeated “ssounds in “sniffs” and “sneers” create a harsh and sharp quality, emphasizing the cat’s disdain.

Stanza 5:


  • Catch him in it: Discover him engaged in a particular situation.
  • Right up to the ears: Completely involved or very busy and occupied
  • Larder shelf: This refers to a storage area for food, implying the Tugger likes to raid forbidden places.
  • Artful and knowing: Clever and perceptive. This hints at his cunning and mischievous nature, suggesting he’s aware of the consequences of his actions.
  • Cuddle: A close and affectionate embrace.
  • Doesn’t care for a cuddle: This reinforces his independent and aloof personality, contrasting him with cats who seek affection.
  • Leap on your lap: Jump onto your lap.
  • Leap on your lap in the middle of your sewing: This depicts his disruptive and unpredictable behavior, creating chaos rather than seeking harmony
  • Horrible muddle: A chaotic or messy situation.It emphasizes his enjoyment of creating messes and disrupting order.
  • Spout it: Speak or declare loudly.
  • Do do: A colloquial way of saying “does.” Emphasizing the cat’s behaviour that cannot be changed.
  • No doing anything about it: This resigns the narrator, and potentially the reader, to accepting the Tugger’s unchangeable nature.


Uh oh, looks like Rum Tum Tugger is up to his mischief again! He’s snuck into the larder and covered himself in cream, right up to his ears! He’s a clever cat, that’s for sure, and he doesn’t care for cuddles or playing nice. His favourite activity? Messing things up and creating a big, glorious muddle!

  • This stanza describes the Rum Tum Tugger as mischievous and sneaky. He enjoys getting into things and causing trouble.
  • He’ll steal cream from the larder and doesn’t like to be cuddled.
  • He’s happiest when he’s causing trouble and making a mess.
  • The final refrain sums up his character and reminds us that he’ll always be himself, no matter what.

The passage again reveals that The Rum Tum Tugger is mischievous, enjoys disruption, and doesn’t conform to expectations. He relishes chaos and lives by his own rules, which makes him both frustrating and undeniably intriguing.

Poetic Devices:

  • This stanza uses humour and rhyme to make Rum Tum Tugger’s mischievous behaviour even funnier. The lines “right up to the ears” and “horrible muddle” create a funny image of a messy cat enjoying his chaos.
  • Hyperbole: Hyperbole (“right up to the ears”),
  • Alliteration: (“leap on your lap”)

Overall Poetic Devices:

“The Rum Tum Tugger” by T.S. Eliot employs various poetic devices to enhance its whimsical and playful tone. Some of the notable poetic devices in the poem include:

  1. Playful Tone: The poem has a light and playful tone, enhanced by the humorous descriptions and repetitive structure.
  2. Repetition: The poem uses repetition to emphasize certain phrases and ideas. The repetition of lines like “And there’s no doing anything about it!” and “For he will do As he do do” creates a rhythmic and memorable quality.
  3. Hyperbole: The poem uses exaggeration, like “right up to the ears” to make the Rum Tum Tugger’s actions seem more dramatic and funny.
  4. Alliteration: Alliteration, or the repetition of consonant sounds, is present in such as “Tum,” and “Tugger” , “sniffs and sneers” and “leap on your lap, “Curious” and “Cat” etc. Alliteration adds a pleasing rhythm to the poem and emphasizes certain sounds.
  5. Enjambment: The use of enjambment, where a sentence or phrase continues beyond the end of a line, contributes to the flowing and uninterrupted feel of the poem. This technique helps maintain the playful and fluid nature of the narrative.
  6. Imagery: The poem utilizes vivid imagery to bring the character of Rum Tum Tugger to life. Descriptions of the cat’s preferences, such as lying in a bureau drawer or leaping on a lap during sewing, create mental pictures that enhance the reader’s engagement with the poem.
  7. Metaphor: The poem employs metaphorical language to characterize Rum Tum Tugger. Describing him as a “Curious Cat” and a “terrible bore” conveys complex qualities and behaviours through figurative language.
  8. Contrast: The poem frequently uses contrast to highlight the unpredictable and contrary nature of Rum Tum Tugger. Examples include the contrast between pheasant and grouse, house and flat, or mouse and rat. This technique emphasizes the cat’s capricious choices.
  9. Humour: Humour is woven throughout the poem, contributing to its overall light and amusing tone. The playful language, unexpected choices, and absurd situations create a sense of enjoyment for the reader.
  10. Personification: The poem gives the Rum Tum Tugger human qualities like thinking, feeling, and acting on his own, which makes him more relatable and interesting to young readers.
  11. Colloquial Language: The use of colloquial expressions, such as “do do” instead of “does” and “horrible muddle,” adds a touch of informality and charm to the poem. This choice of language aligns with the playful and whimsical theme.

These poetic devices collectively contribute to the unique and entertaining character of the poem, allowing readers to engage with the narrative on both a literary and imaginative level.

Central Idea

The central idea of “The Rum Tum Tugger” revolves around the whimsical and unpredictable nature of the titular cat, Rum Tum Tugger. The poem playfully explores the cat’s peculiar preferences and behaviours, highlighting his tendency to contradict expectations and make choices that seem contrary to conventional norms. The repeated refrain, “And there’s no doing anything about it!” underscores the idea that Rum Tum Tugger is a unique and independent character who cannot be easily understood or controlled. The poem celebrates the cat’s curious and carefree spirit, emphasizing the futility of trying to predict or influence his actions. Overall, the central theme revolves around the unpredictability and individuality of Rum Tum Tugger, portraying him as a free-spirited and curious cat.


The poem “The Rum Tum Tugger” by T.S. Eliot explores several themes through its whimsical portrayal of the curious cat. Some of the prominent themes include:

  1. Independence and Individuality:
    The Rum Tum Tugger is depicted as a cat with a strong sense of independence. He consistently makes choices that go against expectations, emphasizing the theme of individuality and the desire to chart one’s own course.
  2. Whimsy and Playfulness:
    The poem is infused with a sense of playfulness and whimsy, especially in its descriptions of the cat’s preferences and behaviours. This theme celebrates the joy of spontaneity and the unpredictability of life.
  3. Fickleness and Contrariness:
    Rum Tum Tugger’s constantly changing preferences and desires highlight the theme of fickleness. The cat’s tendency to prefer one thing and then immediately desire its opposite suggests the capricious nature of individual preferences.
  4. Acceptance of Unpredictability:
    The repeated refrain, “And there’s no doing anything about it!” conveys a sense of acceptance regarding Rum Tum Tugger’s unpredictable behaviour. This theme suggests that certain aspects of life, represented by the cat, cannot be easily understood or controlled.
  5. Celebration of Unconventionality:
    The poem celebrates the unconventional and nonconformist nature of Rum Tum Tugger. His choices, whether in food preferences or living arrangements, challenge societal norms and expectations, promoting the theme of embracing uniqueness.
  6. Joy in Chaos:
    The cat’s penchant for creating chaos and enjoying a “horrible muddle” reflects a theme of finding joy in the midst of disorder. This theme suggests that there can be a certain delight in the unpredictable and messy aspects of life.
  7. Play on Human Behaviour:
    While the poem is about a cat, it playfully mirrors certain aspects of human behaviour, particularly the tendency to be contrary or unpredictable. This theme adds a layer of humour and relatability to the poem.

In short, “The Rum Tum Tugger” explores these themes through a combination of whimsical language, repetition, and a light-hearted tone, inviting readers to appreciate the unique and unpredictable nature of the cat and, by extension, aspects of life itself.

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