By Canine Culture
For aficionados of canine-centric expression of love, we selected three works by poets who have had a special affinity for dogs: Ogden Nash, Thomas Hardy and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. It’s a literary testament to the love and loyalty dogs provided.
Every dog has indeed has its day.
The truth I do not stretch or shove
When I state that the dog is full of love.
I’ve also found, by actual test,
A wet dog is the lovingest.
By Frederic Ogden Nash (1902-1971) was an English novelist and humorist.
‘A Popular Personage at Home’
“I LIVE here: ‘Wessex’ is my name:
I am a dog known rather well:
I guard the house but how that came
To be my whim I cannot tell.
“With a leap and a heart elate I go
At the end of an hour’s expectancy
To take a walk of a mile or so
With the folk I let live here with me.
” Along the path, amid the grass
I sniff, and find out rarest smells
For rolling over as I pass
The open fields toward the dells.
” No doubt I shall always cross this sill,
And turn the corner, and stand steady,
Gazing back for my Mistress till
She reaches where I have run already,
” And that this meadow with its brook,
And bulrush, even as it appears
As I plunge by with hasty look,
Will stay the same a thousand years.”
Thus “Wessex.” But a dubious ray
At times informs his steadfast eye,
Just for a trice, as though to say,
” Yet, will this pass, and pass shall I?”
By Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) was an English novelist and poet.
‘To Flush, My Dog’
LOVING friend, the gift of one,
Who, her own true faith, hath run,
Through thy lower nature;
Be my benediction said
With my hand upon thy head,
Like a lady’s ringlets brown,
Flow thy silken ears adown
Either side demurely,
Of thy silver-suited breast
Shining out from all the rest
Of thy body purely.
Darkly brown thy body is,
Till the sunshine, striking this,
Alchemize its dulness, —
When the sleek curls manifold
Flash all over into gold,
With a burnished fulness.
Underneath my stroking hand,
Startled eyes of hazel bland
Kindling, growing larger, —
Up thou leapest with a spring,
Full of prank and curvetting,
Leaping like a charger.
Leap! thy broad tail waves a light;
Leap! thy slender feet are bright,
Canopied in fringes.
Leap — those tasselled ears of thine
Flicker strangely, fair and fine,
Down their golden inches
Yet, my pretty sportive friend,
Little is ‘t to such an end
That I praise thy rareness!
Other dogs may be thy peers
Haply in these drooping ears,
And this glossy fairness.
But of thee it shall be said,
This dog watched beside a bed
Day and night unweary, —
Watched within a curtained room,
Where no sunbeam brake the gloom
Round the sick and dreary.
Roses, gathered for a vase,
In that chamber died apace,
Beam and breeze resigning —
This dog only, waited on,
Knowing that when light is gone,
Love remains for shining.
Other dogs in thymy dew
Tracked the hares and followed through
Sunny moor or meadow —
This dog only, crept and crept
Next a languid cheek that slept,
Sharing in the shadow.
Other dogs of loyal cheer
Bounded at the whistle clear,
Up the woodside hieing —
This dog only, watched in reach
Of a faintly uttered speech,
Or a louder sighing.
And if one or two quick tears
Dropped upon his glossy ears,
Or a sigh came double, —
Up he sprang in eager haste,
Fawning, fondling, breathing fast,
In a tender trouble.
And this dog was satisfied,
If a pale thin hand would glide,
Down his dewlaps sloping, —
Which he pushed his nose within,
After, — platforming his chin
On the palm left open.
This dog, if a friendly voice
Call him now to blyther choice
Than such chamber-keeping,
Come out! ‘ praying from the door, —
Presseth backward as before,
Up against me leaping.
Therefore to this dog will I,
Tenderly not scornfully,
Render praise and favour!
With my hand upon his head,
Is my benediction said
Therefore, and for ever.
And because he loves me so,
Better than his kind will do
Often, man or woman,
Give I back more love again
Than dogs often take of men, —
Leaning from my Human.
Blessings on thee, dog of mine,
Pretty collars make thee fine,
Sugared milk make fat thee!
Pleasures wag on in thy tail —
Hands of gentle motion fail
Nevermore, to pat thee!
Downy pillow take thy head,
Silken coverlid bestead,
Sunshine help thy sleeping!
No fly ‘s buzzing wake thee up —
No man break thy purple cup,
Set for drinking deep in.
Whiskered cats arointed flee —
Sturdy stoppers keep from thee
Nuts lie in thy path for stones,
And thy feast-day macaroons
Turn to daily rations!
Mock I thee, in wishing weal? —
Tears are in my eyes to feel
Thou art made so straightly,
Blessing needs must straighten too, —
Little canst thou joy or do,
Thou who lovest greatly.
Yet be blessed to the height
Of all good and all delight
Pervious to thy nature, —
Only loved beyond that line,
With a love that answers thine,
Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861) was an English poet