Sunday, October 28, 2012

The best dog poem ever ?

Robinson Jeffers. An American poet perhaps best remembered for the fact that his poem '' The Beaks of Eagles " was turned into a song by The Beach Boys. I'd read this poem of his '' The House Dog's Grave " before and remembered it as a sentimental little piece bordering on the melancholic. Then, somehowby accident , I stumbled across it again. What a difference a re-reading makes. That understated first line '' I've changed my ways a little " a miracle of optimism and acceptance. Au Revoir not Adieu. Genius. When I first skimmed through the poem I thought the line was said by the dead dogs owner. His dog gone he's changed his daily routine. Now I see that it's the peaceful musing of the dead dog. 

The best dog poem ever ? Perhaps

The House Dog's Grave ( Haig , an English bulldog )

I've changed my ways a little : I cannot now
Run with you in the evenings along the shore,
Except in a kind of dream : and you, if you dream a moment,
You see me there.

So leave awhile the paw-marks on the front door
Where I used to scratch to go out or in,
And you'd soon open; leave on the kitchen floor
The marks of my drinking-pan.

I cannot lie by your fire as I used to do
On the warm stone,
Nor at the foot of your bed; no, all the night through
I lie alone.

But your kind thought has laid me less than six feet
Outside your window where firelight so often plays,
And where you sit to read -- and I fear often grieving for me --
Every night your lamplight lies on my place.

You,man and woman, live so long, it is hard
To think of you ever dying
A little dog would get tired, living so long.
I hope then when you are lying

Under the ground like me your lives will appear
As good and joyful as mine.
No, dear, that's too much hope : you are not so well cared for
As I have been.

And never have know the passionate undivided
Fidelities that I knew.
Your minds are perhaps too active, too many-sided....
But to me you were true.

You were never masters, but friends. I was your friend.
I loved you well, and was loved. Deep love endures
To the end and far past the end. If this is my end,
I am not lonely, I am not afraid, I am still yours.

Robinson Jeffers. 1941.


  1. I hear echoes of Wilf (and Digby) in nearly every line.

  2. Beautiful. We think of Wilf and Dilby and our predecessors.

    XXXOOO Daisy, Bella & Roxy

  3. Very touching. The reference to the lamplight makes me think of the resting place of 'the Boyz' and of my own dogs who have passed. Thank-you for sharing this.

  4. Yet again I am moved to tears - as probably every dog owner who has loved and lost will be.
    I miss your dear Boyz, and my own Saffy. I watch my old dog Jess slowly decline and know this is hovering in the shadows for me again, still distant but inevitable.
    The words do help though...
    Thank you Angus

  5. Oh my goodness....just managed to finish reading this, now where did I put those tissues.

  6. Wonderful true poem, one of my team is gently on the end of his path soon, therefore I share those feelings... my other dogs still are with me in my heart forever - storms are here on Ischia - have good Sunday high paws from all of us Susanne and Daisy, Foxiie and Kiri

  7. i just found a picture of Haig..he looks a right character and well deserving of this beautiful poem..

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  9. Tears spring to my eyes, but I am quietened by the thought that my six bow wows are laid to rest under their favourite tree in "their" garden....I can visit with them every day.
    I have another poem on my FB page with a similar "au revoir" poem about a dog...which my daughter sent to me after the lost of my last bow wow, when I adamantly stated that I would not have another dog because of the pain I was going through.
    Here it is:

    Before humans die, they write their last Will & Testament, give their home and all they have, to those they leave behind.
    If, with my paws, I could do the same, this is what I'd ask....
    To a poor and lonely stray, I'd give:
    -My happy home
    -My bowl and cozy bed, soft pillows and all my toys
    -The lap which I loved so much
    -The hand that stroked my fur and the sweet voice which spoke my name.

    I'd will to the sad, scared shelter dog, the place I had in my human's loving heart, of which there seemed no bounds.
    So, when I die, please do not say, "I will never have a pet again, for the loss and pain is more than I can stand."
    Instead, go find an unloved dog, one whose life has held no joy or hope and give MY place to HIM.
    This is the only thing I can give.....
    The love I left behind.
    ----Author Unknown

    1. Thank you for sharing that VirginiaC.....lovely.
      Teena & Merlin

  10. It's a beautiful poem.
    I often look at Lulu and remember the dogs we had before she scampered into our lives. I still miss each one but now think of them with great joy and fondness, almost as if they were still with us.
    I still think about Wilf, quite often.

  11. Lovers of dogs (and cats, too)cannot read this poem without feeling their losses keenly. The good dogs that have gone before, and the tears and smiles mix as we remember them. Thinking of Wilf and Digby and of my wonderful dogs and cats that have crossed the Bridge. After all, it's that time of year to remember and honor our loved ones.

  12. With a very elderly much loved dog sleeping soundly next to me in her deaf dark world, this poem struck such a chord. Beautifully written.

    x (remembering dear Wilf with affection)

  13. "To the end and well beyond the end..." very true words. Loved this poem Angus. Brought a tear to my eye & very sweet memories of my angel dogs.

  14. I have had to say goodbye to two dearly beloved dog companions this summer. Poem was magnificent and tear producing. Thank you Angus.

  15. Oh gee, Angus.
    I'm at the beach and Edward is home with his dog sitter.
    This is killing me!

  16. Thanks, Angus and Virginia, for two such lovely pieces of poetry. The dog writing his will touched me so deeply, I can see every dog I have ever had nodding heads to these thoughts.


  17. Where you are in your life has a lot to do with how you feel about the poem.

    Remembering two polar bear brothers with love.

  18. Well, first yesterday's link to a heartrending story, now this. It's official, you're definitely trying to kill me...

  19. Tears today, for all our beloveds who gave everything they had to us. I loved the last lines. Some small comfort in all this sadness.

  20. i cannot write for tears.
    but would not have missed the will or the poem. thank you.
    my boyz and my zeke.
    my small huge loves.

  21. Absolutely lovely - brings to mind Penney, Louie, Oliver, Emma, Harry, Spanky....and of course, Wilf and Digby. Dogs are so true.

  22. Thank you Angus, the poem is stunning. Thinking of my beautiful gentle Whisky, who now rests under a rose bush in my parents garden, safe and sound.
    And of Wilfie Pon and that delicious nose...and Digby.
    Extra kisses for Merlin today, poor boy.

  23. Much understood by those of us who have enjoyed the deep unending love and companionship of our dearest most beloved dogs. Thank you so very much for bringing this to us. I was aware of Robinson Jeffers because of his work and famous fascnating home in Carmel Californis, but not of this poem.DBH

  24. So poignant, and beautiful. Thank you.