On World Poetry Day, dogs provide good material for poetry.
For World Poetry Day, we thought we’d look back at some of our favorite poems written about or concerning dogs.
Probably the most famous of all canine-related poems is Billy Collins’s “The Revenant.” Narrated by a dog recently put to sleep, he or she unleashes the truth: being a pet was humiliating, especially the silly clothes. The narrator didn’t particularly like the owner’s family or friends, either, and despised doing tricks on command. (Some of them might be a little humiliating, come to think of it.)
Also by Collins is a poem with the absurdly long title of “Another Reason I Don’t Keep a Gun in the House,” which begins with a common phenomenon: the neighbor’s dog WILL NOT SHUT UP. The exasperated narrator then imagines that the dog is part of an orchestra, masterfully playing his part.
While no internet research on her has been successful, a woman named Jean W Sawtell wrote a terrific, though rather sad, poem entitled “It’s Tough on a Dog,” about the trials the faithful friend goes through as his master is growing up into adulthood.
Early twentieth century poet Edgar Guest is known for his storytelling ability and his at-times-insufferable cheerfulness. He wrote a number of poems about dogs during his lifetime, as he wrote on seemingly every subject under the sun. “The Joy of a Dog” has a father musing on the annual rite of passage in every boy’s life that is the hunger for a dog. That bond is celebrated in “A Boy and His Dog.” “With Dog and Gun” tells of a boy’s excursions while hunting with his best friend. “His Dog” tells the heartbreaking story of Pete the dog after his master died in World War I.
Rachel Joy Welcher has several poems that are at least somewhat canine related in her 2018 book Two Funerals, Then Easter (available on Amazon). “To Frank” tells the adoption story of her pastor husband’s faithful, aging canine companion, and Frank shows up as a character in during the quiet pleasantness of the scene in “What Twitter Doesn’t See.”
Country music lyrics could be considered a form of poetry as well (I have LOTS of experience on this topic), and in that vein, Luke Bryan writes about his childhood Labrador Bandit in the song “Little Boys Grow Up and Dogs Get Old.”
What is your favorite poem about dogs? Do you have a favorite poet?